Father charged with infant murder had other baby die in 2016

Zachary Littell / Harper Littell
Zachary Littell / Harper Littell(WITN)
Published: Jan. 24, 2018 at 4:26 PM EST
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A man accused on Wednesday of killing his infant daughter lost another baby 17 months ago and her cause of death was never determined.

Zachary Littell, 25, was charged Wednesday with an open count of murder.

Onslow County deputies say Harper Littell, who was seven-weeks old, was found not breathing on January 3rd at their home on Denise Drive outside of Jacksonville.

The baby died two days later at Vidant Medical Center after being taken off life support.

The father told deputies his daughter had fallen from a portable baby bathtub while she was left unattended. Medical professionals found swollen areas on both sides of the child's head as well as bruises around her lips and back of her head.

Deputies say an autopsy showed her cause of death to be blunt force trauma and her death was ruled a homicide. They say the baby's injuries were not consistent with a fall such as what the father described.

Records show Littell, and the baby's mother, Abigail Neiger-Bickham, had another daughter, Ava, on November 30th, 2015. The baby's death certificate says she died on August 4th, 2016 and an autopsy listed her cause of death as "undetermined".

The child's maternal grandmother says the nine-month old died of SIDS. As for the latest death, she says her daughter was at work the day Harper was injured, noting this was the mother's first day back after maternity leave.

Littell went before a judge Thursday morning for the death of Harper. He's being held without bond.