WARSAW — A South Bend woman is facing neglect and domestic battery charges after she allegedly harmed a child in Kosciusko County.
Heather Jean Baker, 26, 525 E. Indiana Ave., South Bend, is facing charges of neglect of a dependent, and domestic battery to a person less than 14 years of age by a person at least 18 years of age, both level 6 felonies.
According to a probable cause affidavit, at 4:12 p.m. Saturday, April 17, a Warsaw Police officer responded to a Warsaw hotel to conduct a welfare check. A caller reported seeing a woman trying to put her cigarette out on a child’s arm.
Other officers also responded. The first officer spoke with the child, who said they had been playing outside with Baker.
When asked if Baker was trying to harm them with a lit cigarette, the child said Baker was just playing around with the cigarette and the child knew Baker was not really going to burn them.
The child also said Baker was throwing rocks at them, but they knew Baker was not trying to hurt them, but was trying to see if the child could catch the rocks.
The child was also asked if Baker had hurt them before. The child said Baker smacked them in the mouth that day because the child didn’t want to take a bath. However, the child said they deserved it because the child was sassing Baker.
The first officer asked if Baker had hurt them any other times. The child said they had gotten a bruise the day before on the right side of their forehead when the child and Baker were playing on the bed.
The child said Baker threw them on the bed, and the child bounced off the bed and hit their head on a table.
The officer then spoke to Baker. She said she was yelling at the child because the child was running down a hill away from her. She said she yelled at the child because she didn’t want the child to get dirty after having a bath.
She denied trying to put out a cigarette on the child. Baker said she had a cigarette in her hand when she was chasing the child, but didn’t try to put it out on the child.
She said she threw rocks at the child to play catch because that’s how they play. She was asked if she smacked the child on the mouth for not wanting to take a bath.
Baker said she meant to smack the child on the backside due to the child misbehaving, but the child kept moving, and instead of smacking the child’s backside, Baker smacked the child’s mouth.
Baker said she knows not to smack the child anywhere else because she doesn’t want to leave a bruise on the child.
She was asked about the bruise on the child’s forehead. Baker said the child obtained that from hitting their head on the table because they were bouncing off the bed.
Another Warsaw officer spoke to the person who called dispatch.
The caller was reportedly near the location and could hear yelling from outside. The caller looked out and saw Baker and the child in the grass area in the hotel parking lot.
The caller saw them both sitting on the ground, and all of a sudden, Baker hit the child in the face. That caused the child to fall backwards and the child cried after being hit.
The caller also reported seeing Baker try to put a lit cigarette out on the child’s arm. The child kept pulling their arm away so Baker couldn’t do that.
The caller said Baker started throwing rocks and sticks at the child after Baker stopped trying to put her cigarette out on them. The caller could hear Baker yelling at the child the whole time.
As Baker was being taken to the Kosciusko County Jail, she started talking about the child having a bruise on the forehead without being asked about it.
She said the child kept bouncing into her while she was on the bed because the child wanted to play. She said she didn’t want to play, and the child wouldn’t stop, so she pushed the child. That caused the child to hit their head on the table.
Baker said she didn’t mean to, and the child just got a bruise and looked OK.
At 6:18 p.m. April 17, Baker called a man. She told him she had been arrested because the child was outside without a jacket, socks or shoes. She told him that the child told the cops that Baker pushed them into a table.
She also told him that the child kept coming at her, she wasn’t paying attention and the child hit above their eyebrow on the table’s corner.
An hour later, Baker called a woman. She said the child told the cops they were playing when Baker pushed the child off the bed and they hit the table.
Baker told the woman she told the cop that she pushed the child back, and the child bounced off the bed and hit the table. She told the woman she wasn’t paying attention to catch the child. She told the child they would be OK because the incident didn’t break the child’s skin, it just left a big bump and bruise on them.
She also told the woman she told the police she was throwing rocks at the child to play catch and try to cheer the child up, but they didn’t want any part of it.
On Sunday, April 18, Baker called a man. She said she told a Department of Child Services worker that she and the child were goofing off. The child came at Baker too fast, and Baker tried to grip them and they kept moving. Baker lost her grip on them, and the child fell onto the table.
Baker told the man that when DCS questioned her about bruises on the child’s arm, Baker said she didn’t know how they got there and the child was clumsy and ran into everything.
Baker was booked into the jail on April 17 on a $6,000 surety and cash bond.