WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla detectives arrested Thomas N. Caldwell of College Place Tuesday after a nearly five-month investigation of a suspected assault on his infant daughter.
According to documents presented in court this morning, Dr. Shirley Ashely alerted police in early January of the suspected child abuse.
The doctor requested X-rays of the then-9-month-old girl and discovered seven broken ribs.
According to Detective Miguel Sanchez, the investigation has been slow going as medical experts examined X-rays and full body scans.
"It's a slow process," Sanchez said, Tuesday. "I finally got my last report yesterday from Harborview."
The documents presented in court state Caldwell first claimed he did not know how the child was injured, and then attempted to blame a friend of the girl's mother, Amber Dublinsky.
Eventually Caldwell told officials he fell on the child while coming into the mother's apartment after a party.
"Dad's explanation of falling in the bassinet does not explain (the broken ribs)," the report from Harborview Medical Center stated in the court documents.
Ashley is quoted in the same document as saying "They most likely occurred at the same time from squeezing pressure around the chest -- as would occur if someone grabbed the baby around the chest hard and squeezed."
Caldwell, who has been charged with first-degree assault of a child, had his first appearance in Walla Walla County Superior Court this morning, where bail was set at $25,000.
Luke Hegdal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8326.