Parkersburg police are searching for a St. Mary’s man they say killed a 1-year-old child by inflicting severe internal head injuries.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for Curtis Dean Richards, 30. Richards is charged with murder in the death of Ariella Noel Merinar, his girlfriend’s daughter.
Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin said Richards was baby-sitting Ariella, and called 911 around 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday.
“He tried to blame it on the 2-year-old sister — that he found the 2-year-old sister with a blanket around the baby’s neck,” Martin said.
Emergency responders tried to resuscitate the child for about an hour. Officers had to wait until the autopsy on Thursday to get enough evidence to obtain a warrant, according to Martin.
The autopsy revealed severe head injuries and injuries to the girl’s neck.
Richards and the girl’s mother had been together for about two months. The mother was at work when the incident occurred and has fully cooperated with the investigation, Martin said.
“She’s going through a pretty rough time with this, as I would too,” the chief said. “As a dad and a parent and a human I sympathize with her and the whole family, the grandmother, the two-year-old — she doesn’t quite understand it.”
Richards drives a black Toyota truck with West Virginia license plate 4XA-886.
According to the state Division of Corrections website, he is on parole. He was sentenced twice in Wood County, once in Raleigh County and once in Kanawha County — for “forging or uttering other writing.”
Anyone with information should call Parkersburg police at 304-424-8444, or any law enforcement agency, Martin said.
Reach Erin Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.