The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 1:00 am

Boyfriend sought in toddler's homicide

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Police are searching for the live-in boyfriend of a woman whose 2-year-old daughter was found dead in her crib Jan. 27.

Shane A. Patton, 30, was charged Monday in the death of Jocelyn “JoJo” Belcher, who emergency responders found “cold to the touch with rigor mortis” after they were called to 235 E. Butler St., court records said.

Patton faces felony charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury and neglect of a dependent by placing a dependent in a dangerous situation.

Both charges date to July 1, though JoJo died in January, found tightly wrapped in a blanket, court documents said.

The Allen County coroner ruled her death a homicide due to neck compression. Dr. Darin Wolfe, a postmortem physician, said her injuries were consistent with “both a hand over the mouth and neck.” The autopsy revealed a hemorrhage deep in the neck, court documents said.

Wolfe wrote that “unconsciousness could occur in 10 to 20 seconds of the compression with continued asphyxiation resulting in death,” court records said.

With JoJo's death, there have been 16 homicides this year in Allen County.

Crystal Belcher, 28, the mother of JoJo and four other children ranging from 3 to 9, was arrested Thursday. She faces the same charges as Patton and was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail.

Patton could face additional charges, according to local attorney Mark Paul Smith, who is not connected to the case.

“Prosecutors can only charge based on information available to them at the time,” Smith said. “As more information is revealed, charges can become much more severe.”

According to court records, Patton was there the morning of Jan. 27 and told police he had come in from work and found JoJo not breathing. Belcher told police she and Patton put all five children to bed the night before and she and Patton had slept in their bed the whole night.

An older child told police that Patton was normally the one to put JoJo and the 3-year-old sister to sleep. She said Patton always wrapped JoJo in a blanket, demonstrating that to authorities, and that she heard Patton smack them when he put them to bed and they cried, court documents said.

Wolfe also found evidence of abusive trauma. Bones in JoJo's right arm had been broken. Although the fractures had healed, there were no medical records to show they had been treated, court records said.

Belcher is due back in court today.

Sign up for our crime and courts newsletter

Sent daily when events warrant