Police say that an Arundel man lifted his infant son by the head and threw him into a chair three days before the boy died, and that the state had been notified about injuries to another child in that family.

Ethan Henderson, who was 2½ months old, died early Tuesday from brain injuries.

He had been abused previously, according to court documents, though it’s not clear whether his injuries came to the attention of child protective workers or whether there was any response.

Gordon Collins-Faunce, 23, is being held in the York County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, charged with assaulting his son. The state Attorney General’s Office will decide this week what new charges might be brought in light of the baby’s death.

The charges could include manslaughter, which is criminal negligence or recklessness that causes a death, or depraved indifference murder, which is conduct “so heinous … that it shows a total disregard for the value of human life,” said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.

Ethan’s twin brother, Lucas, and his 3-year-old half sister have been removed from their home at 521 Limerick Road. A family friend said Tuesday that the children’s mother, Christina Henderson, 23, would petition to have them returned, now that Collins-Faunce, her fiance, is out of the house.

There are no accusations against Henderson in the court documents.

An affidavit prepared by Maine State Police Detective Lauren Edstrom in support of Collins-Faunce’s arrest Sunday describes in stark detail how he apparently lost control at home Saturday morning, squeezing the child’s head and throwing him into a chair so hard that the infant’s head snapped backward.

Collins-Faunce did not have to go to his job that morning as a flagger on a road crew. Henderson woke just before 6 a.m. and fed Lucas. Ethan was the smaller of the two boys and often ate less, she told police.

When Henderson left for work at 9:30 a.m., Lucas was in a swing and Ethan was in his crib. Collins-Faunce was using the computer in the living room.

In an interview Sunday, Collins-Faunce told police that after Henderson left for work, he went outside to smoke a cigarette. When he returned, Ethan was crying, as was his half sister.

Collins-Faunce said he was frustrated and overwhelmed. “I was losing control,” he said in the interview.

He picked the baby up off a floor mat by his head.

“He said he stood up straight and held (Ethan) by the head with both hands for ‘one minute max,’ ” the affidavit says.

He held the baby’s head so that both of Collins-Faunce’s elbows pointed straight out to the sides and the baby’s feet dangled chest high.

He then threw Ethan into a living room chair.

“On a scale of 1-10, he estimated his force to be 8 or 9,” the affidavit reads. “He said he saw (Ethan’s) head snap back when he landed in the chair.”

After that interview, doctors alerted police that Ethan’s condition had worsened, that there was no brain activity on the left side, so half of the baby’s brain was essentially dead.

The baby was taken off life support and died shortly after midnight Tuesday.

Collins-Faunce initially told police that he had found Ethan in his crib, having trouble breathing and gurgling with spit coming out of his mouth.

“He appeared to be gasping for breath. (Ethan’s) face was pale and he was limp,” the affidavit quotes Collins-Faunce as saying. “His eyes were only open halfway and he had ‘lockjaw.’ “

Collins-Faunce said he gave the baby to his stepmother, Debra White, and called 911. She waited outside the mobile home with the baby until an ambulance arrived.

The baby was taken to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, then transferred to the Special Care Unit at Maine Medical Center. He had severe bleeding around the brain.

OLD AND NEW BRAIN INJURIES

According to the affidavit, Collins-Faunce told police that he had broken Ethan’s arm when the baby was about 4 weeks old.

Under questioning, he first said the injury was an accident. He said the baby’s arm had gotten stuck between the crib and a protective bumper when he lifted him, snapping the boy’s upper left arm.

Later, Collins-Faunce said he had intentionally twisted the boy’s arm in frustration because he was having trouble changing the baby’s diaper.

The affidavit does not say whether the child was seen by a doctor for the broken arm.

It quotes doctors as saying that Ethan had both old and new brain injuries. Doctors said he “presented as a dirty child,” with diaper rash, dirt under his fingernails and an unwashed belly button.

The state Department of Health and Human Services received a referral from a day care provider that Ethan’s 3-year-old half sister had come to day care covered with bruises, the affidavit says. The referral also said that Ethan and his twin brother were sick and not being treated.

The affidavit does not indicate when the day care provider made the referral or whether the DHHS investigated.

John Martins, spokesman for the DHHS, said confidentiality laws prohibit the department from discussing any specifics of the case, including when a referral was made or what was or wasn’t done.

He said the agency investigates any time there is a complaint of child abuse.

“It doesn’t matter whether there’s a past history or alleged past history with a family, we have a very rigorous intake process,” he said. “We investigate every complaint and determine, based on intake and interviews, what the next step ought to be.”

Nothing in the affidavit suggests that Collins-Faunce was responsible for the 3-year-old’s bruises. The report does not implicate anyone else in the household.

It does not detail what medical attention any of the children received before Ethan was brought to the hospital Saturday.

Henderson told police that her twins had been sick the previous week and were given medicine for a viral infection.

‘HE’S BEEN TARGETING ETHAN’

Nicole Tucker said she is a friend of Henderson’s from their hometown of Farmington and has known both parents for about a year. She said in an interview at the family’s house Tuesday that she held Ethan at the hospital shortly before he died.

“It was absolutely devastating to see that innocent child like that. It didn’t seem like him,” she said. He didn’t move, and his eyelids fluttered.

Tucker said that for some unknown reason, Collins-Faunce took out his anger on Ethan – not his brother – and that Henderson was unaware.

“He’s been targeting Ethan and she just didn’t realize it,” Tucker said.

Collins-Faunce has been taking medication for post-traumatic stress disorder that he suffers because he was physically and sexually abused as a child by various foster parents, the affidavit says.

He told police that he was discharged from the military after he held a knife to a roommate’s throat. Tucker said Collins-Faunce did not serve overseas.

Collins-Faunce told police that he was an alcoholic for most of 2010 but had since quit drinking. His prescription medication for post-traumatic stress disorder had changed recently, and he was having trouble sleeping.

Tucker said Collins-Faunce took mood stabilizers and the new prescription appeared to be working well. He had been quiet, and when he got frustrated, he would walk away.

“The day this happened, he didn’t take his meds,” she said.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]