An agreement reached with prosecutors prior to their preliminary hearing led to a felony charge being dismissed against Daemon Klingensmith, age 23, and Jeannette Funnen, age 32.
The couple was charged after they fled with their eight-week-old son and his three-year-old half-brother, Makias Palmer. On September 26th, doctors in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital had questioned bruises found on the baby, named Ambrose.
Though the charges of intimidation, obstruction, or retaliation in a child abuse case were dropped, Funnen and Klingensmith still face charges of endangering the welfare of children.
The family fled to Marshall County, Tennessee, which was where they were found in early October, unharmed. The children were examined by medical professionals. Marshall County is approximately ten hours away from Children’s Hospital.
Federal agents had been tipped off as to the family’s location, information they passed on to the Lewisburg Police Department in Marshall County. Lewisburg detectives and crime suppression units began a search of the city, resulting in the family’s car being stopped, the parents arrested, and the baby and his brother taken to the hospital for checkups. Marshall County child welfare services then held the kids until Alleghany County Child, Youth, and Family Services could arrive to claim them.
Currently, the children are in the care of Ambrose’s grandparents, Eric and Kimberly Klingensmith.
Funnen and Klingensmith had taken Ambrose to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh because he was experiencing difficulty going to the bathroom. Ambrose’s grandfather told reporters that their son massaged the baby’s belly to help him go, and that they believe the bruises came from there. The grandparents believe that when the parents were told the bruising was consistent with child abuse, they probably became afraid of losing their children, running away for that reason. Eric Klingensmith said he thinks a mistake might have been made.
Court papers contained a doctor’s report that declares the bruises on Ambrose’s stomach were consistent with marks made by fingers and were a big cause for concern of physical abuse. The papers called the marks a “patterned injury” that caused Ambrose a considerable amount of pain.
The grandfather does not deny the baby has a bruise, but he doesn’t believe it was the result of someone purposely hurting him.
Daemon Klingensmith’s lawyer, David Shrager, said his client and the baby’s mother did not flee because they were guilty but because they were frightened. He is quoted by reporters as saying they did not believe they were being treated fairly by the system.
Funnen’s attorney, Sean Logue, said to a Channel 4 News reporter that he does not comprehend the reasons for his client being charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Logue said his client took the baby to two different doctors, and that no one is saying she ever abused any child. Court papers indicated the hospital got a hold of West Mifflin police when they were not able to contact the parents after multiple attempts. The hospital wanted to conduct more testing to see if Ambrose had internal injuries. They asked police to help them reach the parents.
Documents filed with the court state that Children and Youth Services told police that Funnen had previously had two children taken out of her custody and care and had an emergency protective order filed against her. Allegedly, she has a history of lying to authorities and has attempted suicide in the past while pregnant.
The search involved the FBI, who joined after police were given a lead that the family might be on their way to Florida.
No Amber Alert was issued in this case, because it was not considered to be an abduction.
As of the date of this report, Funnen was still in the Allegheny County Jail. She has since posted bond and been released.
Klingensmith was able to post bond and is free.
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