Murder charges have been filed in the death of a year-and-a-half old toddler from Alaska. According to autopsy reports, the little boy from the North Pole did not have frostbite, as was initially reported by his mother, but, rather, burns. The autopsy also noted a fractured skull and widespread bruising on the little boy’s body.
In the light of the report by the medical examiner, Amber Lynn Aubrey Swanson was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned yesterday on first-degree murder charges for the death of her own son, Julian Swanson-Byrd.
Swanson, a stay-at-home mom and amateur boxer, initially claimed that on November 29, in an attempt to calm Julian down, she drove him to a gravel pit near Fairbanks. After accidentally falling asleep she woke to discover that the car window had been rolled down. She claims that she then found her toddler sleeping in the snow. According to her version of events, when she took Julian home that night he was just cold and very much alive. According to Swanson, the toddler died the next day and did not respond to her attempts to resuscitate him.
No call to 911 was made and no medical help was sought when the baby died. Swanson told her family the story of how her son had gotten out of the car while she had been sleeping and must have died due to frostbite from sleeping in the show. She laid her son’s body in the backseat of her car and drove around for the majority of the day on Sunday until a friend managed to convince her to take Julian’s dead body to a hospital.
It wasn’t until just before midnight on Sunday evening that Swanson brought the body of her son to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. She told hospital staff that the baby had been ill for a week. The examining physician, however, found signs that the toddler had a fractured skull and frostbite, and hospital personnel noted signs of decay on his body.
The autopsy reports found that the manner of Julian’s death was not sickness and that he had perished due to blunt force injury to his head. The medical examiner also noted that the boy’s body had numerous and widespread bruises and that what had first been noted as frostbite was actually burns on the child’s skin. The autopsy results coupled with Swanson’s unverifiable version of how her toddler’s death occurred prompted Alaskan officials to file murder charges against her.
A propane torch was found by investigators in Swanson’s car. In a visit to the gravel pit, they were not able to find any child-sized footprints or any indication that a baby had lain down to sleep in the snow.
Swanson is currently being held at the Fairbanks Correctional Center without bail. Swanson cried throughout her arraignment on Thursday and seemed especially upset to hear that the crime of which she was accused could bring a sentence of up to 99 years in prison. Swanson also requested that the state of Alaska provide a public defender to assist in fighting the murder charges filed against her in the horrific death of her toddler.
By Jennifer Pfalz
San Francisco Chronicle
Anchorage Daily News