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Fla. father arrested for shoving baby wipe down infant’s throat

A Florida father has been arrested for the the 2021 choking death of his infant daughter, following a years-long investigation that revealed he shoved a baby wipe down her throat, and then waited until she was unresponsive to call 911, police said.

Joseph Napier was jailed Friday on a $750,000 bond, Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers told reporters during a press conference aired by WPTV Monday. Napier is facing one count of manslaughter in connection with the death of 2-month-old Iris Napier on May 28, 2021.

When officers arrived at Napier’s home in Vero Beach that day, the infant was unconscious and “turning blue,” police said. First responders attempted CPR on the 2-month-old and then took her by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Napier, who placed the emergency call, later told deputies he left his young daughter alone on the couch for about 10 minutes with another 18-month-old child. He noted that when he returned, the infant was choking and that he was able to see a small white object in the back of her mouth.

“Our forensics team has determined that his claims that the 18-month-old child placed a wipe down the throat of this 2-month-old infant — we’ve proven that that’s not possible,” Flowers said. “He put that wipe in that child’s mouth. He pushed it down far enough that this child choked. It took doctors going deep into this child’s throat with forceps [to get it out].”

An investigation into Iris’ death further revealed Napier left the children unattended for at least a half hour, much longer than the 10 minutes he copped to, and that he waited at least five minutes to call 911. A motive for the incident remained under investigation, but Flowers speculated the father had become upset because he could not get the infant to quiet down.

Iris’ grandfather, Joe Miller, who was present at the press conference on Monday, recalled Napier’s frustration with the baby’s crying and colic in the hours before her death.

“As I was getting dressed, Joe [Napier] was screaming at the top of his lungs at the baby, ‘Why can’t you shut the eff up?!’” Miller said. “That was the last thing I heard.”

Napier’s arraignment has been scheduled for Oct. 19.

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