Father wanted for murder found, in custody; Baby died from massive blunt force trauma, coroner says
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The father of the infant found dead early Thursday has been found and is now in custody, according to police.
Police tell us 28-year-old Jacob Wesley Bengert was arrested Friday around 2 p.m. near Fares and Maxwell Avenue.
According to the news release, Bengert walked up to someone and asked them for a ride. That person, EPD says, recognized Bengert and called police.
The Evansville Police Department tells us that in the last 24 hours, they had several calls from people who they believed saw Bengert, and they are thankful for those in the community who helped find them.
“We had pretty good information that he was on foot, and he was still in the area," said EPD Sgt. Nick Winsett. "So we had guys checking abandoned homes, underneath overpasses. We were just checking everywhere we could potentially check. Going back and rechecking these abandoned homes, and we were confident that he would eventually turn up.”
Sgt. Winsett tells us that Bengert was handcuffed and immediately taken to EPD headquarters for questioning.
We spoke with EPD earlier Friday about how the tips were helping track Bengert down.
“Without tips from the public, and help from the public, we’re not going to be able to find him," said Sgt. Winsett.
The tips they received included surveillance video from a Conoco gas station that led police to Bengert’s exact location, ending a two-day search.
This all started Thursday morning when EPD says officers and firefighters were called to a home in the 1300 block of E. Illinois Street for a call about an unresponsive 3-month-old infant.
Police say the infant was dead when officers arrived at the scene.
According to police, they were able to talk to the child’s mother, 32-year-old Chelsea Marksberry, but the father, Bengert, left before first responders arrived.
EPD says a murder warrant was issued for his arrest Friday morning.
In the 911 call from dispatch, Marksberry says Bengert told her the baby fell off the bed while she was at work. She told dispatchers when she got home, the baby seemed fine and took a bottle.
Marksberry told them she woke up to find the child not breathing and called 911.
Police say the child had several facial injuries, severe burn marks on his face and chest area, and “what appeared to be cigarette burns” on his feet and hands.
“A lot of the detectives and the other workers as well say this is probably the worst infant death they’ve ever seen," says EPD PIO Nick Winsett. "It was pretty bad. I’ve seen some pictures, it’s really graphic, and it’s disturbing, especially for people who have children.”
According to the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office, an autopsy performed Thursday evening showed the baby suffered massive multiple blunt force trauma prior to death. The coroner also ruled the death a homicide.
The sheriff’s office tells us Marksberry was also arrested in connection to the death of her baby.
Marksberry also told police that she and Bengert did heroin while she was caring for the baby and Bengert’s four-year-old son. Records show that Marksberry’s 11-year-old son was also home.
Around 6 p.m. Thursday, Marksberry was booked into the Vanderburgh County Jail on the charge of Neglect - Reckless Supervision - Death of Child. Her bond is set at $20,000.
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