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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:00 am

Suspect in toddler death arrested

Wanted since April; 2-year-old dead in crib

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne man wanted since April in the death of a 2-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday.

Shane A. Patton, 31, is charged with two counts of felony neglect in the death of Jocelyn “JoJo” Belcher in January. The girl was found dead in her crib Jan. 27 inside a home in the 200 block of East Butler Street.

Doctors told police she had injuries consistent with “both a hand over the mouth and neck,” a probable cause affidavit said. The girl died from neck compression, the Allen County coroner said.

A warrant was issued April 24 for Patton's arrest, and he was arrested about 11 a.m. Wednesday in the 2700 block of Chandler Drive by a Fort Wayne police detective and U.S. marshals, city police spokesman Michael Joyner said in an email.

The girl's mother, Crystal Belcher, 29, also is charged with two counts of felony neglect. She and Patton each could face up to 181/2 years in prison if they are convicted on both counts. Belcher's trial is scheduled to start Jan. 15.

Emergency workers called to the Butler Street home in late January found JoJo wrapped tight in a blanket and “cold to the touch with rigor mortis,” police said. An autopsy revealed a hemorrhage in her neck, court documents said.

A child who lived at the home told investigators usually Patton put JoJo and another girl to sleep and that he would smack the children, documents allege. He always wrapped JoJo in a blanket, the documents said.

Dr. Darin Wolfe told detectives he found evidence of bone fractures – including a broken arm – that could be evidence of abuse. The breaks had healed, he told police, but there were no medical records to indicate the injuries were ever treated.  

Patton was being held at Allen County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.

mleblanc@jg.net