Man who police say stuffed wipe into infant’s mouth to quiet her is arrested in her death

A Florida man was arrested in the 2021 choking death of his infant daughter after investigators concluded he put a baby wipe in her mouth, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Joseph Napier, 30, was arrested Friday on a manslaughter charge, the sheriff’s office said.

Napier is accused of killing the infant “by shoving the baby wipe down her throat,” sheriff’s Det. Robert Sunkel said at a news conference.

Napier called 911 on May 28, 2021, and said his daughter was unresponsive and choking, officials said.

Deputies and EMS rushed to the scene and took the child to a hospital, but she later died, the sheriff’s office said.

Napier had claimed that he left the 2-month-old and an 18-month-old alone for 10 minutes, Sheriff Eric Flowers said.

“Our forensics team has determined that his claims that the 18-month-old child placed a wipe down the throat of this 2-month-old infant — we’ve proven that that’s not possible,” officials said.

Napier left both children alone for 30 minutes, not 10, an examination of his phone showed, and Flowers said he waited five minutes to call 911 about the choking incident.

“He knew he was the cause of this. He was getting his story together,” Flowers said, adding, “He put that wipe in kid’s mouth to shut him up.”

The infant had colic and was crying, Flowers said.

Flowers said that if he could prove Napier intended to kill the child, the charge would be more serious.

“He knew, or should have known, that that would cause harm to this child,” Flowers said, adding, “His neglect of these children absolutely caused the death in this case.”

Napier was being held in lieu of $750,000 bond Monday, according to officials and jail records.

Online court records did not appear to show an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Arraignment was scheduled for Oct. 19.

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