Detective: Accused murderer claims she found child unresponsive in bathroom

Autopsy found ‘contusions and lacerations of varying ages; chronic physiological stress’
Posted:  Friday, December 15, 2017 - 2:45pm

Kendall Chick had injuries so severe, parts of her head had to be held in place for a photograph, according to police affidavits released Friday, the morning after State Police arrested Shawna Gatto, 43, of Wiscasset and charged her with murdering the 4-year-old girl Dec. 8.

Arrest and search warrants state, red-brown stains that tested “presumptive positive” for blood were found on Chick’s bed; on the bathtub in the bathroom Gatto allegedly said she left Chick in when Gatto went to get Chick a drink; on Chick’s bedroom wall near a “round-shaped dent/defect ... which appears consistent with the size of Kendall’s head”; and, in a plastic waste bag in the same bathroom, on paper towels/tissues and rags “indicative of trauma and subsequent cleanup of blood.”

According to the documents at the Unified Court in Wiscasset, Kendall’s grandfather Stephen Hood said he was working at Bath Iron Works Dec. 8 and hadn’t seen her that day until she was unresponsive on the bathroom floor. He told authorities Gatto called his cell phone and told him Kendall was unresponsive.

Maine State Police Det. Jonathan Heimbach writes in the affidavit for the arrest warrant, Hood called 911, reported an unresponsive 4-year-old girl and said he attempted CPR; the 911 operator provided emergency medical instruction; and at one point Gatto was heard allegedly saying “She was fine like ten minutes ago”; about six minutes after Hood called, Wiscasset EMS arrived and found the child was not breathing, had no pulse and was pale and cold to the touch; she was taken immediately to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where she was pronounced dead.

Heimbach continues, Gatto and two grandchildren of hers were at the Crickets Lane home; Gatto said she was Kendall’s caregiver and was the only person alone with her that day.

Heimbach states Gatto allegedly told a detective no blood had been shed that day and that Kendall had received no injuries; that she put Kendall in the bathtub and Kendall was fine; that she went to get Kendall chocolate milk a few feet away in the kitchen and when she returned, Kendall was in the tub, unresponsive.

Hood told another detective, Gatto had told him Kendall was in timeout in the bathtub after messing herself. Heimbach’s affidavit for a warrant states Gatto showed Wiscasset Police Sgt. Craig Worster the bathroom where she allegedly said she found the child, and that, according to Worster, there was no water in the tub, there appeared to be vomit on a rag,  and the bathroom did not appear disheveled as it would if a medical emergency had occurred.

Also in the affidavits, Heimbach states that Gatto’s babysitter and daughter-in-law Danielle Coffin told authorities she was at work at Mid Coast Hospital Dec. 8 when she got a text from Gatto indicating Coffin needed to come home and that something was wrong with Kendall; Coffin told authorities she called Gatto, that Gatto was crying and said an ambulance was at the house, Kendall was being taken away; that Kendall had thrown up and had diarrhea so Gatto was about to give her a bath when Kendall asked for a drink of water, that Gatto went to get it and when she came back Kendall was unresponsive.

The documents state the chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, did an autopsy Dec. 10 that showed, in Flomenbaum’s opinion, the child died as a result of blunt force injury to the abdomen, causing lacerations to her pancreas and other areas and death within one to 12 hours. According to the documents, the autopsy also showed multiple contusions and lacerations of varying ages to the head, neck, and all four extremities, and “chronic physiological stress in addition to the recent injuries ...”

According to the documents, the Department of Health and Human Services placed the child with Gatto in January.

Gatto remains held without bail at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. She is charged with knowingly causing the child’s death or engaging in conduct that caused the death and manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life.