“That’s not a shot put; it’s a baby!”
If only someone had uttered those words to then-24-year-old Minnesota
sea hag “mother,” Shy Ann Hentges, of Cambridge, Minnesota. I’m trying so hard to refrain from making fun of that name, because it’s not her fault her parents were apparently Hooked on Phonics, but dear lord, Shy Ann? That’s so stupid it hurts my head.
You know what else makes a person’s head hurt? Being a tiny infant with a skull that hasn’t yet fused and getting slammed into your crib by your beastly mother. That’s what happened to two-month-old Eli Gage Arispe-Hentges on April 5, 2017. Police responded to an emergency call of an infant not breathing at Shy Ann’s Braham, Minnesota home, where they determined Eli, who was blue, cold to the touch, and not breathing, to be dead at the scene.
Shy Ann gave contradicting statements during the nine month investigation, causing police to suspect her right off the bat. Initially, she told police that she accidentally knocked Eli’s head into a door frame as she carried him out of the bathroom.
During another of Shy Ann’s interviews, she told police that while feeding Eli at 2:00 AM on the morning of his death, she hit the left side of his head on a door frame. That could account for at least one of the head fractures… except for the inconvenient fact that the fatal fracture occurred on the right side of Eli’s head. When called on her bullshit by the investigators, she edged a little closer to the truth, saying that after a feeding, she “maybe put [Eli] down too forcefully” in his crib. (I’ll say.)
Shy Ann told investigators she had in fact thrown Eli into the crib, which caused his head to impact the wall, according to the criminal complaint filed against her. The complaint also disclosed text messages Shy Ann sent her sister indicating she was having second thoughts about “keeping this kid” and complaining about her lack of sleep. She also mentioned drug and alcohol use. According to Fox 9, both Shy Ann and Eli’s father, Dillon Arispe, were unemployed and homeless when he was born, and both parents have a history of struggling with drug abuse. In fact, Shy Ann is due to be sentenced later this month for a separate drug charge. Quality mom!
Based on my research, it appears that Shy Ann and Dillon were not in a relationship or living together at the time of Eli’s death.
Eli’s autopsy, performed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County, ruled Eli’s death a homicide. His injuries included two healing left-side rib fractures in addition to two fatal skull fractures, including an “11-centimeter facial fracture,” as well as bruises on the little guy’s head. It also noted possible asphyxia due to unsafe sleeping conditions. With that information in their pockets, as well as their interviews with Shy Ann and with Dillon, authorities had enough evidence to charge her with second degree murder and first degree manslaughter.
(Photos of Eli’s memorial courtesy of Dillon Arespie’s Facebook page)
Shy Ann waived her right to a jury trial and opted instead for a bench trial. On December 3, 2019, Shy Ann Hentges, now 26, was found guilty of second degree murder without intent by Judge John Klossner. It’s not clear what happened to the charge of first degree manslaughter. Shy Ann will remain behind bars on a $500,000 bond until her sentencing, which is scheduled for February 20, 2020.
“While this was a very difficult case for everyone involved, we want to thank everyone that helped bring justice for this infant,” read a statement by the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office after the verdict. “It takes a village to raise a child. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to Isanti County Family Services as well as many other community resources.”
“In a tragedy like this, [it’s] so, so preventable with you consider the resources available,” said Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad. “When you consider the family members, the friends, the acquaintances, when you consider Minnesota has the safe harbor for newborns, when you consider the resources available for newborn and family services, there are so many resources available for people to reach out to.”
Minnesota’s Safe Place for Newborns law allows babies seven days old or younger to be dropped off, no questions asked, at a hospital or health care facility offering urgent care. In fact, all 50 states currently have similar safe haven laws on the books.
Eli’s dad, Dillon, told Fox 9 that he wants only one thing: “Just justice for Eli. And then he goes to rest.”
Click here for more of my coverage on Eli’s case.
Sources: Isanti-Chisago County Star; Star Tribune; Crime Online; Fox 9; Facebook