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Published: Tuesday, 5/24/2005

Father charged in son's death

FORT JENNINGS, Ohio - A 13-month-old boy was found dead inside his home yesterday, and his father, who Putnam County sheriff's deputies said confessed to drowning the infant in a bathtub, was charged with aggravated murder.

The child, Joel Luebrecht, was pronounced dead at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima.

Mike Luebrecht, 36, was being held last night without bond pending arraignment in Putnam County Court.

The motive for the death has deputies baffled, Sheriff James Beutler said.

"He didn't indicate any trouble with the baby," he said. "Something snapped somewhere and that's it. There are things we never figure out sometimes."

The suspect called 911 about 2 p.m. yesterday and said he had drowned the infant in a bathtub. Sheriff's dispatchers initially couldn't believe what they heard, and urged him to try CPR while they summoned rescue workers to the house on First Street.

A volunteer firefighter living across the street soon arrived and found the baby, still in clothes, lifeless on a bed, the sheriff said. The father was at the house.

"He said he just intentionally did it," the sheriff said. "That's why we charged him with aggravated murder."

Nobody else was home at the time. Mr. Luebrecht's wife, Amy, was at work at the post office of the small town. The couple have two older children.

Mr. Luebrecht, who is unemployed, had picked up the infant from a baby-sitter's home outside of Fort Jennings earlier in the day, leaving another of their children there, then returned home with baby Joel.

His wife told deputies her husband has always been a good father, Sheriff Beutler said. "He has no criminal background of that sort," he said.

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