Catoosa Father Arrested In Baby Boy's Death

Friday, July 15th 2011, 1:38 pm
By: News On 6 & Emily Baucum, News On 6

CATOOSA, Oklahoma -- Catoosa Police are investigating a case of possible child abuse after a 15-month-old boy died early Friday morning at a Tulsa hospital. 

Mark Nichols, 21, is being held for first degree murder.  A preliminary autopsy shows his 15-month-old son Maverick died of blunt force trauma to the right side of his head.

"The child became unresponsive at that residence and was taken by the parents into Tulsa to a local hospital," Assistant Catoosa Police Chief John Blish.

On the way there, police say the Nichols got into a minor car accident on 244 and Highway 11. An ambulance took Maverick to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa.

The toddler had a fractured skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

"The injuries that were observed on the child, they couldn't have happened during the accident," Blish said.

ER doctors worried Maverick had been abused and called police. By 5 a.m. Friday, the toddler was dead.

"It is the worst crime in which we have to investigate," Blish said.

The Wagoner County District Attorney's office says OSBI agents searched the house. All investigators will say is they found hard, flat surfaces that may have caused the head injuries.

Yvonne Replogle lives next door to where Mark Nichols moved in with his wife and son. She says the family didn't live here very long.

"Just a matter of weeks, I'd say." Replogle said.  "I never heard any fighting or anything."

Nichols remains in police custody and neighbors are mourning a little boy they barely knew.

"Yeah, it's a shock. Although it shouldn't be; it seems every day someone like that is passing away, a little kid," she said.

Investigators are also questioning the boy's 19-year-old mother. The Wagoner County District Attorney expects to file formal charges early next week.