The Florida couple accused of murdering their nine-week-old baby boy allegedly let the infant waste away in his crib, and then the closet, for more than a week after his father beat him to death, officials said.
Joseph Walsh, 36, was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony murder in the death of his newborn son, Chance, who had been missing for more than a month when his body was found in a shallow grave in the woods less than 13 miles from their home, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Walsh and 32-year-old Kristen Bury, Chance’s mother, allegedly told investigators that the baby had died early September 16 in their North Port home.
Bury, who was also charged with first-degree felony murder in her son’s death, went on to allegedly tell detectives that Joseph repeatedly struck Chance. At one point she claims she told Joseph, “you are going to break his f****** neck,” the affidavit said.
“Joseph said to Kristen that he was going to bash his (Chance’s) head into the ground at one point during the argument. Kristen never called 911 or took any measures to prevent Joseph from abusing Chance,” the court document said.
The document said that the couple, who are both alleged long-time drug users with a criminal history, “made the conscious determination not to contact EMS or any other medical assistance.
“Joseph said during his interview that Kristen told him she did not want them to call 911 because she did not want to lose both people she loves in the same day.”
After he died, Chance was placed in his crib, where he was left to decompose until Bury complained about the smell, the affidavit said.
“Joseph wrapped Chance in numerous garbage bags, and then placed the decomposing remains of Chance in the closet of the bedroom,” the court document said.
On September 24— eight days after Chance was killed— Bury and Walsh made two trips to Elliot Court where they dug a shallow grave and then buried their son.
Bury directed detectives to the gravesite, where a fragment of blue surgical gloves was found.
“Kristen disclosed that Joseph was wearing blue ‘hospital [surgical] gloves’ when he was digging the hole, but the gloves were damaged by the shovels and fragments were likely left behind,” the affidavit said.
The couple left Florida on September 27 to “start a new life somewhere else,” Walsh allegedly told police. They were subsequently involved in a car crash in South Carolina and told relatives three different accounts of what happened to their son, authorities said.
Though there has not yet been a positive identification of the body, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight told reporters he’s “confident that it is Chance.”
The cause of the child’s death was not yet released.
Walsh was held without bond on the murder charged and on $150,000 bond for one count of child neglect. He was set to appear in court on Wednesday.
Bury made her first appearance in court on Saturday, keeping her head down for most of the proceedings. Bury was held on $150,000 bond for the child neglect charge and no bond for the murder charge.
Neither Walsh nor Bury have entered a plea. Information for the pair’s attorneys was not available.
The Florida Department of Children and Families noted in a statement that the department did not have any prior investigation involving Chance, but it had “multiple past interactions with Joseph Walsh, including the removal of seven children from his custody."
“The murder of Chance Walsh is absolutely heartbreaking ... In the wake of this tragedy, DCF has immediately begun an internal quality assurance review,” Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said in the statement.
“The review will include all the interactions that Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury have had with the agency to determine what, in addition to the previous removal of all children in Mr. Walsh’s custody, could have been done to prevent this tragedy," the statement said.