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NJ cop, wife held on murder charge after three-month-old daughter's autopsy finds skull fractures, hemorrhage; ongoing abuse suspected

Daniel Bannister, 31, and his wife Catherine Bannister, 29, will face trial in the December 2018 death of their daughter Hailey.
UPDATED JUL 18, 2019

A New Jersey police officer has been arrested in connection with the death of his infant daughter in 2018. Daniel Bannister, 31, of Ewing, has been charged with murder over the December 2018 death of his daughter, three-month-old, Hailey, who was found to have suffered skull fractures and subdural hemorrhage, according to

The Mercer county prosecutor's office said Ewing's Emergency Medical Services responded to Bannister's home on December 5 on reports of an unresponsive three-month-old girl who had difficulty breathing.

On arrival, they found that the infant was in cardiac arrest and not breathing, and transported her to the Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell for further treatment.

At the hospital, medical personnel discovered that the child had suffered a fractured skull, brain bleed, and had multiple fractured ribs. She was then transported to Robert Wood Johnson Children's hospital in New Brunswick, where she died on December 11.

Catherine has been charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child (Source: Mercer County Prosecutor's Office)

After she was hospitalized, friends and family set up a GoFundMe page titled 'Hope for Hailey Rose' where they claimed the three-month-old had suffered a "catastrophic brain injury" on December 5. They confirmed she was being treated at a pediatric intensive care unit and was not expected to recover.

The Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office, which performed an autopsy on Hailey in December, ruled her death as a homicide.

Mercer County homicide detectives subsequently started investigating the case because of the suspicious nature of her death, and Bannister, who had graduated from the Mercer County Police Academy in September 2017, was suspended with pay. 

He was arrested this past Wednesday, July 17, after the prosecutor's office had received additional testing that was performed after Hailey's autopsy which showed that the cause of death was from blunt impact trauma to the head, including skull fractures and a subdural hemorrhage.

"The nature of Hailey’s injuries indicated an ongoing pattern of abuse," said Mercer county prosecutor Angelo Onofri in a statement. 

Bannister's wife, Catherine Bannister, 29, has also been arrested. She was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

The prosecutor's office said they would seek to detain both Bannisters pending the outcome of the criminal cases against them.