“These individuals neglected their responsibilities to care for an innocent child,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “By failing to get him appropriate medical care, this baby needlessly suffered and died. Terrible tragedies like these can be prevented, and my office will hold individuals accountable who knowingly put the lives of others, especially vulnerable children, at risk.”
On January 20, 2022, the Pennsylvania State Police were called to the Hoenigke residence in Sullivan County in response to an infant death. Upon arriving at the Hoenigke’s home, investigators determined that the child had actually died three days earlier, but the parents waited to contact any authorities out of fear that their two-year old would be taken away.
Further investigation into the death revealed that the child had been born at home on or around January 15. Brigette Meckes, a friend of the Hoenigke family, was present to assist during the birth. Meckes had experience in the medical field but was not licensed to practice medical care.
Shortly after the birth, the baby showed signs of severe distress. Messages from the defendants described the baby as struggling to breathe and “turning blue”. In a failed attempt to aid the child, Amy Hoenigke and Meckes utilized a peppermint oil infuser and attempted to create a makeshift breathing tube from a water bottle. Without proper medical care, the baby died approximately two days after birth.
Experts believe that the caretakers should have immediately sought medical care when the child began showing signs of distress and difficulty breathing. The inaction of the defendants resulted in needless suffering, and made it impossible for the baby to survive.
Amy Hoenigke, Drew Hoenigke, and Brigette Meckes have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and endangering the welfare of children.
This case was referred to the Office of Attorney General from the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye.
Information, a criminal complaint, or an arrest is not a declaration of guilt. A suspect, arrestee, or defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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