Toms River Babysitter Charged With Infant’s Murder
A Toms River 44-year-old who regularly minded a 14-month-old at her home is now accused of murdering the baby last August.
Michelle A. Heale is being held on $250,000 bail in the Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold. The case was moved to Monmouth because the infant's father and Heale's husband work in the Ocean County Prosectuor's Office.
Investigators say that Heale had watched young Mason Hess several times a week for a few months leading up to her August 28 call to Toms River police that the baby was having trouble breathing.
Authorities say that the child was unconscious and not breathing when police and EMS workers arrived. The infant was airlifted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors there, say investigators, determined that physical abuse had placed the baby in grave condition.
Mason Hess died on September 1, a day after doctors at the hospital concluded that he had undergone violent shaking that caused severe brain, spinal and retina damage.
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner's autopsy concluded that the infant died of blunt cerebral trauma, and ruled it a homicide.
If Heale reaches trial and is convicted of the first-degree charge, she would face at least 30 years in prison and 30 years of parole ineligibility. She would also be subject to the No Early Release Act, requiring her to serve at least 85 percent of her given term if it's more than the minimum.