CPS custody hearing sheds light on Highland Park infant's death




Posted on July 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 20 at 2:24 PM

HIGHLAND PARK - There are new details about the death of a Highland Park baby from a CPS custody hearing. A caseworker testified the Harrison House Rothermel's father brought him to Children's Medical Center Sunday afternoon with bruises and a broken rib.

The caseworker told the judge the boy's mother was out of town. She left Saturday morning to care for her father.

On Sunday afternoon, the infant's father, 44-year-old Louis Rothermel, drove four-month-old Harrison to Children's Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

"When the hospital notified us and the investigators responded to the scene, there were suspicious circumstances, said Sgt. Lance Koppa, a Highland Park Police spokesman.

Police then interviewed the child's parents.

"He was cooperative in speaking with our investigators," Koppa said.

But three days later, family members reported Mr. Rothermel missing. Wednesday evening, Dallas police found his body at a Dallas hotel with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The CPS caseworker who testified said this isn't the first time the infant suffered injuries. He said two months ago, Harrison Rothermel had a skull fracture. Harrison also has Down syndrome.

CPS officials say they were investigating the skull fracture and did not make any changes to the family's living arrangements, knowing the children's grandmother was living with the family. Now, they're looking into why the father was alone with them Sunday.

The caseworker said the grandmother took photos of Harrison's injuries before he died.

CPS had taken custody of the couple's four-year-old son. But Thursday, the judge ordered him reunited with his mother, Honey Rothermel.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com