This is a story of the killing of an Air Force couple’s first born, and the devastating, brain-crippling beating of their second born, how the military doctors totally screwed up, how military and state child protective services ignored it all, how the father got off with three years prison for “child endangerment and aggravated assault” and the also-charged mother stays no-bail-free at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
It’s more than enough to make you borrow that line from the 1976 movie Network. “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”
The principals in the cast are Caleb Humphries, the Air Force father. Natasha Beyer, the Air Force mother. Air Force pathologist Christopher Gordon and Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) pathologist Christina Belnap.
Here’s the heart of the case, now a lawsuit against the U.S. Government as overseer of TMAC.
When Humphries’ and Beyer’s five-week-old son, G.B. was brought to Tripler in 2016, he had multiple rib fractures and lesions on his brain. The pathologists decided he died of a herpes infection. How that accounted for the rib fractures they didn’t say. The paperwork was filed away. Humphries and Beyer went back to work.
In July a year later, a girl was born to Humphries and Beyer and when she, identified in the suit only as Baby Jane, was nine days old, the parents (both Air Force enlisted people) brought her to Tripler suffering from multiple fractures, head injuries, and serious brain damage. Tripler doctor, Lt. Col. Shelly Martin, wrote a medical finding that the infant’s injuries were “non-accidental trauma” and that this made the earlier death of her brother “very concerning and non-accidental trauma should have been more thoroughly considered.”
That required Tripler to report these cases to Hawaii civil authorities, which they did and the boy’s death was reclassified by a county medical examiner as caused by “blunt force trauma to the head” and re-listing of that death as a homicide.
The military then filed charges against Humphries and Beyer. The state did not. Nor did any child protective services agencies step in to strip the couple of their custody of Baby Jane.
The lawsuit filed by Baby Jane’s court-appointed guardian, Stephen Lane, says “the actions of Tripler military physicians… in failing to determine and report that G.B. was killed by physical abuse in G.B.’s household were below the applicable standard of care and constituted professional negligence.” It says Baby June should have been immediately removed from the parents’ custody.
The military justice system does not include bail, so Natasha Beyer remains free, pending a trial which has been held off because of the COVID pandemic.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages to be determined at trial.