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Haymarket man charged in death of infant son

A Haymarket man has been charged with murder in the alleged shaking death of his 3-month-old son, Prince William County police said Monday.

David Michael Schmidt, 28, called police last August to report that his son, Rhys, was unconscious and not breathing, authorities said. Then, according to a search warrant filed in Prince William Circuit Court, he took the baby to Heathcote Medical Center. Schmidt said he had been changing a diaper when the baby began to have “spasms,” the court papers say.

The child was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where doctors determined that he had broken ribs and a subdural hematoma, a life-threatening buildup of blood on the surface of the brain that can indicate that a baby has been shaken, according to court papers.

Rhys died 12 days later, on Aug. 17.

Police interviewed Schmidt and wrote in a search warrant: “Due to the serious nature of the child’s injuries, Mr. Schmidt’s version of events are highly suspicious.” They searched the Schmidt family’s home three days after Rhys was injured and seized items including computers, baby bottles and a cushion.

David Michael Schmidt (Courtesy of Prince William County Police)

After Rhys died, county police obtained a search warrant for the cellphones of David Schmidt and his wife, Elizabeth, Rhys’s mother. In the affidavit for the warrant, they wrote that the boy’s parents communicated about his health using their phones and used mobile apps to help them care for the baby.

Jonathan Perok, a police spokesman, said that investigators spent months consulting several medical examiners to determine the cause of the child’s death. They concluded that Rhys had been shaken by his father and that it caused the fatal injuries, Perok said.

Schmidt was arrested Thursday on charges of murder and felony child abuse and was held without bond. It was not clear whether he has an attorney.

Elizabeth Schmidt declined to comment when reached by phone on Monday.

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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