Father led police to dead son’s body, apologized to baby’s mom, then asked cop to shoot him, police testify

Published 5:32 pm Friday, June 4, 2021

An Alabama man who pleaded with the public for information about his missing son later led authorities to a shallow grave where the infant was buried and asked a police officer to shoot him before he was placed in handcuffs and charged in the death, testimony showed Friday.

Testimony in a hearing for Caleb Michael Whisnand Sr. revealed new details about the death of 5-week-old C.J. Whisnand and how authorities found the baby’s body, news outlets reported. The man told police the child’s death was accidental, evidence showed.

Whisnand, 32, was arrested last month just hours after making a public plea for the baby’s safe return alongside the child’s mother, Angela Gardener. Initially accused of manslaughter, the charge was later upgraded to capital murder.

After a brief news conference with police, Whisnand drove sheriff’s investigators to a rural area where they found the baby dead, a detective testified. Gardener also was there, and Whisnand ran to her, hugged her and said, “I’m sorry.”

“He said it was an accident, he had hit his head,” Montgomery County Sheriff’s Investigator John Shepherd testified at a preliminary hearing. Soon after, Shepherd said, Whisnand “looked at me and asked me to shoot him.” Instead, Whisnand was placed in handcuffs.

Dr. David Rydzewski, a forensic pathologist with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, testified the boy had a complex skull fracture to the right side of his head and was bleeding over the entire surface of his skull. A bone was broken in his right leg, he said.

Such injuries occur accidentally only in a severe car crash or a five-floor fall, he said. “This is an acute injury and the child died within minutes,” Rydzewski testified.

Whisnand had called police to report the child missing from a convenience store on May 10. The man and Gardener appeared at the news conference two days later after authorities issued a lookout for the baby.

At one point, the investigator said, Whisnand told police C.J. had been unresponsive when he left his brother’s house and he tried to revive the child. When he couldn’t revive him he took the body to Lowndes County, where it was buried.

A grand jury will review the case, and Whisnand will have a chance to enter a plea if indicted.