Discolored blotches dotted the face of Oaklyn Leigh Owens in one of the photos taken before the 1-year-old died at the hospital in January. And according to the medical examiner’s report associated with her death, they were not the result of an accident — as it was originally reported.
“The entirety of the findings, including location of contusions, number of contusions, pattern injuries ... are not consistent with the explanation(s) provided,” the report states. “The manner of death is therefore ‘homicide.’”
Police arrested John Robert Shore, 31, of Danville, in connection to his daughter’s death, and a grand jury certified felony charges of homicide and abuse and neglect of children against him in April. Medical examiners ruled that Oaklyn had died from blunt trauma to the head.
Police opened an investigation into Shore after responding to Sovah Health- Danville for a report of an unresponsive infant on Jan. 23. Shore had driven his daughter to the hospital, police reported, after finding her unresponsive. She was soon transferred to a hospital in Roanoke for more care, where she died two days later. The medical examiner’s report noted multiple hemorrhages and contusions as among her injuries. Her only personal effect was a white and pink stuffed unicorn.
A review of the infant’s medical records led police to charge Oaklyn’s father.
The autopsy report states that Oaklyn’s parents said she had an accident days before she wound up at the hospital in January. On the day she was taken to the hospital, her parents said, she had been put down for a nap and was found unresponsive four hours later.
“Initially, it was reported she had fallen off a short table (1½ feet height) or a toy block (8 inches high) about two days before,” the report states. No treatment was sought for Oaklyn after that incident, the report states, even though she was drowsier than usual after that incident and started vomiting more.
When Oaklyn was brought into the emergency room at the hospital, she had bruises on her. Both parent’s statements about what happened were inconsistent, according to a search warrant filed in Danville Circuit Court, and both were the primary caretakers on the day she died. The Danville Register & Bee could not reach the infant’s mother for comment on this story.
A search of the house also found “elevated damage to an interior wall,” according to the warrant, and police took measurements of Shore’s height and wingspan along with samples of DNA found at the house.
Police, when asked by the Register & Bee, would not answer questions about the suspected motive in the case or the cause of the blunt force trauma.
“It is safe to say head trauma and other injuries are the result of a single incident but not from a single blow, strike or object,” wrote Lt. David Whitley.
Shore is being held in the Danville City Jail without bond. His trial has not yet been scheduled.
Whitlow writes for the Register & Bee. Contact him at (434) 791-7983.