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Wood County indicts 3 in child abuse cases

Steinmiller-Rebecca

Rebecca Steinmiller, 25, was charged with child endangering.

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BOWLING GREEN -- Three people were indicted Thursday by a Wood County grand jury on charges stemming from three separate incidents of alleged child abuse.

Nathan J. Brenner, 35, of Liberty Center, Ohio, is accused of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and two counts of endangering children for the March 1 death of 2-year-old Emma Zehnpfennig of Bowling Green. She spent a week on life support at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center before her death from severe head trauma.

Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said Mr. Brenner was the boyfriend of Tabitha Zehnpfennig, Emma's mother. He was caring for the child "at the time she sustained injury and failed in his duty of care to her, resulting in her death," Mr. Dobson said in a news release.

Neighbors of the child's mother said it was Mr. Brenner who took Emma to the hospital Feb. 22. He had been living with Ms. Zehnpfennig, they said.

Mr. Dobson said an arrest warrant had been issued for Mr. Brenner.

The case has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex.

The grand jury also charged Erin N. Taylor, 19, of Bowling Green on one count of endangering children for head injuries suffered by her 6-month-old son on April 26. Bowling Green police said the infant was taken to Wood County Hospital reportedly suffering from seizures when a medical examination revealed a fractured skull and other bleeding wounds. The child was then transferred to Mercy St. Vincent.

Mr. Dobson declined to say who currently has custody of the child. A warrant also was issued for Ms. Taylor, whose case has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey.

Also indicted was Rebecca Steinmiller, the mother of 3-month-old Carter Steinmiller, who died May 5 at Wood County Hospital of yet-undisclosed causes. Ms. Steinmiller, 25, of rural Bowling Green, was charged with one count of endangering children -- a charge for which she has been held in the Wood County jail since May 11.

Mr. Dobson said Ms. Steinmiller allegedly had reason to believe her young son's arm was broken for at least four days before his death but failed to seek medical attention for him or notify law enforcement. While the broken arm was not believed to be the cause of death, investigators are waiting for autopsy results from Wood County Coroner Dr. Douglas Hess.

Ms. Steinmiller dialed 911 about 5:50 p.m. May 5, crying and saying her baby was not breathing, that she and her husband could not resuscitate him. She said she had just awoken from a nap.

More charges could be forthcoming depending on autopsy results, officials said.

Ms. Steinmiller's case has been assigned to Judge Pollex. Mr. Dobson said the cases are not connected.

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