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Utah Couple Charged in Death of 13-Day-Old Infant Who Had Fractured Spine

Harriet Sokmensuer
Utah Couple Arrested in Death of 13-Day-Old Infant

The mother of a 13-day-old boy and the woman’s boyfriend have both been charged with murder after the infant was found unresponsive on the couple’s bedroom floor with a fractured spine and a broken rib, PEOPLE confirms.

On Friday, an arrest warrant was filed for Maria Elena Sullivan and Dylan James Kitzmiller, who are both Utah residents, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. Both were charged with first degree murder and three counts of child abuse.

Sullivan, 26, was arrested in Cherokee County, Georgia, on Sunday, a sheriff’s spokesperson tells PEOPLE. She was seeking medical care at a local hospital when she allegedly made comments that alarmed staff, who soon notified a police officer.

Authorities did not comment on why Sullivan was in Georgia.

Kitzmiller was arrested in Utah on Friday night without incident, a West Jordan Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

While Sullivan is not believed to have abused the boy directly, officials allege she knew he was being abused by Kitzmiller and did nothing to stop it, according to the warrant.

The baby, who was born on Sept. 4, died on the night of Sept. 17. When he was born, the baby appeared to have no health problems, the warrant states. When he died, the baby had lost a significant amount of weight and was covered in bruises and abrasions, and had a spinal fracture and a broken rib.

According to the warrant, on Sept. 17, authorities responded to a report involving an infant at Kitzmiller’s home. When they arrived, the baby was on the bedroom floor. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

During police questioning, Sullivan allegedly told officers that her boyfriend abused the baby, and that he was often “rough” when handling her son, the warrant states. Once, she told police, Kitzmiller allegedly slapped the child’s face and bit his hands.

Despite these complaints, police allege Sullivan left the baby in Kitzmiller’s care.

On the day of her son’s death, Sullivan said she found Kitzmiller moving the child’s legs in “a rough weird bicycle thing,” according to the warrant.

Later that evening, Sullivan told police, the baby was “making grunting noises and at some point was gasping for air,” the warrant states. He stopped breathing soon after.

When authorities arrived, the baby had obvious bruising and abrasions on his face and body.

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“Both of them were charged because the girlfriend indicated that there was a level of abuse that was going on, she was aware of this abuse, and she took no steps to stop this or to take the child to safety,” District Attorney Sim Gill alleged to FOX13.

During an autopsy, a medical examiner found the child had fractured his spine the day of his death. The cause of death appears to be of severe brain injuries, the medical examiner stated, according to the warrant.

Sullivan is being held without bond in Georgia. A West Jordan spokesperson says she is facing extradition.

Kitzmiller is being held at Salt Lake County Jail on a $1 million bond.

It is unclear whether Sullivan or Kitzmiller have attorneys.