Nashua man accused of assaulting infant son, breaking two bones
MERRIMACK - A Nashua man is behind bars after he was accused of breaking his infant son's leg and arm, and also causing a tear in the child's mouth on separate occasions last month.
Matthew Northrup, 26, of 9 Derry St., was arrested after police say he wrenched his four-month-old son's leg and jerked his arm, causing the child's femur and humerus bones to fracture. Police charged in court that Northrup also forced his finger into the infant's mouth and held it there, causing a tear in the floor of the baby's mouth.
The child, who was born premature, weighed about 1.5 pounds. He was released from the hospital after his birth on Jan. 2. The assaults took place sometime between Jan. 2 and Jan. 28, according to police, who were notified of the boy's injuries by the Division of Children, Youth and Families on Jan. 30.
The baby was treated at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon at the end of January for the injuries. Dr. Kent P. Hymel reported that the injuries did not appear to be accidental, and allegations of child abuse were investigated by police in Litchfield, where the baby resides with his mother, according to the police affidavit on file at the 9th Circuit Court, Merrimack District Division.
According to court documents, the child, referred to as W.S., weighs about 8 pounds despite being four months old. He lives with his mother, Candice Smith, 22, of 145 Route 3A, Litchfield.
On Friday, Northrup voluntarily came to the Litchfield Police Department and signed a statement of understanding before being questioned by authorities. According to police statements, Northrup spends four or five nights a week at the Litchfield residence to help Smith care for their child. He "admitted during the interview that he was responsible for the injuries (the baby) sustained," the affidavit filed by Lt. David Donnelly reported. "Matthew went on to explain that he gets frustrated at times for different reasons, and takes out his frustrations on (the baby)."
Specifically, he mentioned changing the boy's diaper and becoming frustrated to the point that he grabbed the child's left leg and wrenched it down, court records noted. Northrup went on to say that he also was holding the baby on his lap feeding him when the child slid between his legs and "out of frustration he grabbed the left arm of (the baby) and jerked his body upwards by only his arm," according to the court documents.
On a separate occasion, Northrup was playing a video game when the infant would not stop crying in his crib, police reported. "Matthew became once again frustrated because the level on his video game was difficult, and he didn't want to bother with the baby at that time," the affidavit stated. "Matthew stated the baby appeared to choke or spit up, and Matthew took a facecloth wrapped around his index finger and jammed it into the baby's mouth for about three seconds."
On two other occasions, when Northrup was upset with Smith, Northrup told police he would go into a different room with the baby and take his frustrations out by squeezing the baby tightly with his hands and shaking him, according to the affidavit.
Northrup was arraigned on three felony charges of second-degree assault Tuesday in Merrimack District Court. Judge Clifford Kinghorn set bail at $50,000 cash only, ordering that Northrup have no contact with the victim or any other biological children if bail is posted.
According to Donnelly, Northrup may be in the process of trying to obtain custody of a second child who is four years old. Police said Northrup has a prior criminal history, as he was convicted of stalking in 2011 and received a six-month jail sentence that was deferred. A few months later he was found guilty of criminal liability for the conduct of another, according to police.
While the recent charges are serious, public defender Edward Cross argued that Northrup is not a flight risk, as he has lived in New Hampshire his entire life, was born in Nashua, and graduated from high school in Nashua.
Noting that Northrup lives with his grandparents, Mary and William Martin, in Nashua, Cross asked that bail be lowered to $3,000 cash or corporate surety, explaining Northrup receives about $700 a month in governmental assistance.
Kinghorn denied the request, saying the court must be concerned with the safety of New Hampshire's citizens.
Donnelly said he believes the baby has been released from the hospital. The mother is cooperating with police, he said.