DA: Delaware County parents fractured ribs of 3-month-old twins

Two parents in Delaware County are facing felony child abuse charges after investigators say they fractured the ribs of their 3-month-old twins, prosecutors announced Thursday.

David Nelson, 42, and Colette Benel, 41, both of Wallingford, each face two counts of felony child abuse allegedly inflicted on their twin infant daughters, according to authorities.

“Injuries to children are always heartbreaking – but to three-month old infants, such injuries at the hands of their parents are unconscionable,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said. “Infants are utterly defenseless - which is why it is so important that we stepped in to protect them.”

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office said the Nether Providence Police Department was contacted by the Delaware County’s Department of Children and Youth Services after being alerted to the suspected child abuse by the team at the Alfred I Dupont Children’s Hospital.

The criminal complaint alleges that one of the infants arrived at the hospital on May 5 as a result of a pediatrician’s concern over a rapidly spreading rash. Authorities say a skeletal survey was performed, which revealed four healing rib fractures. The findings led to a child abuse investigation being opened, according to investigators. 

On May 7, the parents were directed by the team at Dupont Hospital to bring the infant’s twin sister to the hospital for examination. No signs of abuse were found. On May 11, accompanied by counsel, the parents were interviewed at the Office of the District Attorney. The parents stated that they had no knowledge of any inappropriate handling of the either infant by themselves, or by anyone else, investigators said.

On May 21, during a follow-up visit to Dupont Hospital, a skeletal survey was completed on both twins.  Investigators say the survey revealed that the twin that had previously shown no sign of injury now showed signs of three healing rib fractures. The doctor stated that the rib fractures were similar to those on the original victim twin, and were approximately seven to 10 days old, according to authorities.

Nelson and Benel turned themselves in on Tuesday. The parents failed to post the $50,000 and are currently being held at the George Hill Correctional Facility.


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