FORT WAYNE – Wednesday night.
In a Wal-Mart parking lot, a 2-month-old girl begins crying.
Her father is in a car with her while her mother is shopping in the store.
A day later, the father will describe the crying as uncontrollable.
He’ll say the girl wouldn’t stop, and he’ll say she kept defecating all over the car.
He’ll tell Fort Wayne police detectives how the girl hit her head on the steering wheel.
He’ll tell those detectives how he tried to squeeze her head and chin together to keep her from crying.
He’ll tell them how it didn’t work.
And those detectives – knowing the girl suffered two skull fractures, bruising around her eyes, swelling on her head and a small blood clot on her brain – will place him under arrest.
The father, identified as 21-year-old John A. Meier, is now facing a preliminary felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury.
He has also been served with papers ordering him to have no contact with his child.
The events leading to Meier’s arrest began with a shopping trip he took with his daughter and her mother to a local Wal-Mart about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
When the couple arrived at the Wal-Mart, the child was asleep in her car seat.
The decision was made that the girl’s mother would shop while Meier stayed in the car with the baby, according to Allen Superior Court documents.
While the mother shopped, she received several text messages from Meier about 9:50 p.m.
One message said the (baby) was pooping all over the car and screaming at the top of her lungs, a detective wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
Another message said the baby hit her head on the steering wheel, according to court documents.
By the time the child’s mother came outside minutes later, the baby was in her car seat with a cover zipped up so that only her face was showing.
The baby was crying but calmed when she heard her mother’s voice, according to court documents.
Meier and the child’s mother, who have been together since April, proceeded home.
While the mother put away the groceries and took a shower, Meier gave the child a bottle, court documents said.
When the mother came out of the shower and looked in on the baby in her basinet, she saw obvious injuries.
The girl had bruising under her eyes and over her eyelids. She had redness and swelling above her eyes.
It looked as though there was redness on top of the baby’s nose and even blood inside the nostrils.
When the mother confronted Meier, he said he had placed the girl in his lap while in the car to change her diaper.
He told the mother the baby then lifted up her head and bumped it on the steering wheel, according to court documents.
Meier became grumpy and loud, court records said.
The mother called police to the couple’s apartment in the 4900 block of Northcrest Drive the next day.
She would tell a detective that her child cannot lift her head while lying on her back, and can only lift her head a little while on her stomach.
She told the detective she did not believe Meier and that the child could not get hurt the way he described.
When examined at a hospital, the baby’s condition was listed as critical, according to court documents.
Doctors told police of the skull fractures, the blood clot and the girl’s swollen head.
Police tracked Meier to his job at Memorial Coliseum and brought him to the police station for questioning.
In an interview, he used a doll to show them how he was holding his daughter and how she bumped her head on the steering wheel.
He said she kept fussing and crying, and he showed them how he tried to squeeze her mouth shut with his hand to get her to quit crying.
Meier showed them how, when that didn’t work, he put one hand under her chin and one hand on her head and squeezed her mouth shut that way.
He said he applied pressure for one to two minutes, according to court documents.
Still, the girl did not stop crying.
Finally, Meier told police he was the only one with the girl during the time she suffered her injuries. That’s when police arrested him.
Meier is being held in lieu of $20,000 bond and Friday was served with a no-contact order regarding his child.
The girl’s current condition was unavailable Friday.