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Crime News Breaking News

Parents Charged For Murder After Abused Baby Found Dead In Crawlspace, Covered In Cat Litter

Police investigated Samantha Trump and Shaun Oxenreider after they had complained about funeral expenses.

By Jon Silman

A Pennsylvania couple has been charged with murder after police found their infant dead in a crawlspace, covered by kitty litter in a plastic trash bag. The child had been badly beaten and died from blunt force trauma to the head and the abuse, according to a coroner's report cited by WFMZ-TV in Allentown.  

Samantha M. Trump, 27, and Shaun C. Oxenreider, 25, were also charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, concealing the death of a child and the abuse of a corpse. The charges were announced Wednesday by the Berks County District Attorney. The couple had been previously arrested and charged in connection to the concealment of the baby, but not murder.

Six-month-old Harper Trump was discovered March 20 by police who went to the couple's townhouse in West Lawn to check on the infant, according to arrest reports cited by the Reading Eagle.

Apparently the couple had been telling relatives the child died, and were complaining about funeral expenses. Authorities couldn't find any records of the baby's death, so they asked couple to produce a death certificate, but Trump said they were in New Jersey until Easter.

A case worker drove by and saw a car in the driveway, the report said, and police followed up. Cops asked the couple to produce an urn with the baby's ashes. They could not. Police searched and found a crawlspace  and a large plastic container with a shut lid. It was full of cat litter, the report said, and Oxenreider told police they kept it there so it wasn't close to the kitchen. There was a plastic bag sticking out of the litter. Officers pulled it out and cut it open, and they found the dead child.


An autopsy revealed the child had a fracture on the base of her skull that might have happened a week before death, Hoffman said. She had multiple rib fractures on both sides and a broken right forearm.

The damage “would have been caused by repeated episodes of squeezing and blunt impacts and are indicative of prolonged abuse,” he said.

The child died sometime in early January. Trump and Oxenreider are in the Berks County jail without bail. They'll be back in court on June 26 for a preliminary hearing.

[Photo: Reading Police Department]

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