A Mount Oliver man charged with assaulting his girlfriend's 2-year-old son told police that he accidentally pushed the boy while chasing him and the child tumbled down the steps.
Jason Henry, 32, was awaiting arraignment Friday night on charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of Maddax Kalafas, who remained in intensive care at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where doctors were treating him for bleeding on the brain and bruises that covered his body.
"We weren't sure whether the child was going to live or die," Allegheny County police Lt. Jeffrey Korczyk said. Doctors now expect the boy to make a full recovery.
Medics transported the boy to Children's Hospital in critical condition, and Mr. Henry continually said, "He fell down the steps," a complaint says.
Lt. Korczyk said Mr. Henry picked the boy's mother up from work in McMurray, dropped her off at the hospital and disappeared until police arrested him at his girlfriend's Walter Avenue home Friday.
A doctor at Children's Hospital told police the boy had fresh bleeding on his brain and bruises on his face, head, arms, trunk and thighs and a scratch on his back. The doctor "advises that not all of [the boy's] injuries are consistent with a 2-year-old falling down a set of steps" and that the injuries "are the result of physical child abuse," according to a criminal complaint.
Mr. Henry, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 230 pounds, told police that the bruises on the boy's thighs formed because he punched the child in the legs while playing a game.
He then told police that the boy did not fall down the stairs on his own. According to the complaint, Mr. Henry said he wanted to shower after dropping the boy's mother off at work and decided to place the boy in the shower with him so he wouldn't leave him unattended. The boy ran away and Mr. Henry said he accidentally "pushed" him while chasing him, causing the boy to hit his head on a wall and then tumble down the steps.
Mr. Henry told the boy's mother Thursday night that he "was going to kill himself" and he "did not want to get in trouble," according to the complaint.
Lt. Korczyk said the boy's 28-year-old mother, whose name has not been released and who has not been charged in the case, met Mr. Henry on Craigslist about three months ago, allowed him to move in and frequently left the child in his care.
Online court records show that Mr. Henry has a criminal record that dates to 1999 and includes guilty pleas to charges of harassment, reckless endangerment and other offenses.
"I don't think she really knew much about his character," Lt. Korczyk said of the mother.
Liz Navratil: email@example.com or 412-263-1438. Twitter: @LizNavratil.