Elizabethtown police have filed criminal homicide charges against two defendants in unrelated cases just days apart.
David Mikeal Skalla, 24, of Elizabethtown was charged with criminal homicide and aggravated assault on Friday, Aug. 10, the same day that victim Blake John Shearer, 16, of Bainbridge, died at Hershey Medical Center. Police allege that Skalla attacked Shearer in Elizabethtown Community Park on Monday, Aug. 6, after confronting him about loud music. Shearer was kept alive for several days in the hospital. Skalla was in state prison on a parole violation at the time he was charged in Shearer’s death.
In an unrelated case, Candace M. Parrow, 23, was arrested Monday, Aug. 13, and charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and strangulation regarding the July 16 death of her 4-month-old daughter. Police said in court papers that Parrow was very distraught and made statements about being “blamed again for this.” Police determined Parrow had a previous child who died in Syracuse, N.Y., just over a year ago under similar circumstances; the cause of death for that child was listed as undetermined.
Charges in both cases were filed by Elizabethtown Police Detective Dustin H. Ryan.
Following the infant’s death, an autopsy was performed. The child’s death was ruled a homicide caused by strangulation and suffocation.
Police determined Parrow had sole custody of the child at her apartment on East Orange Street between Market Street and Cherry Alley on the evening of Monday, July 16. The child had appeared healthy earlier that evening.
Ryan wrote in a sworn statement filed in court that Parrow had called 911 shortly after 10 p.m. that night and banged on a neighbor’s door, shouting that the baby was not breathing and was dead. Ryan wrote that Officer Samuel Bigler and Cpl. Jesse Schlotzhauer responded and found the infant to be unresponsive and discolored; she appeared to be beyond help. She was taken to Hershey Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead shortly after 11 p.m.
Ryan wrote that Parrow told Schlotzhauer that she had laid the baby down to sleep on a changing table cushion placed on top of an air mattress, then went downstairs to wash dishes. Parrow told Schlotzhauer that she went upstairs about 10 minutes later and found the baby face down on the air mattress.
“When Corporal Schlotzhauer began to ask additional questions about what she was doing, Candace Parrow made mention that she would get blamed again for this, and stated that she had a child that died just over a year ago and couldn’t go through this again,” Ryan wrote in his sworn statement, going on to say that Parrow was then taken by ambulance to the same hospital due to her hysterical condition.
A neighbor helped Schlotzhauer get in touch with the baby’s father, who was at work. Ryan wrote that the father’s boss confirmed that he was at work from the afternoon until police contacted him.
Ryan wrote that when he arrived on the scene, he noticed that the sink where Parrow had said she was washing dishes was dry. There was a dirty pot in the sink along with dried cooked rice. Ryan wrote that “the amount of items that could be described as dishes were sparse throughout the entire residence, and most of them were dirty to include several pots and pans.”
Ryan wrote that he contacted the Syracuse Police Department in New York state and was sent a report about the death of Parrow’s previous child. “This cause of death had been listed as undetermined and similar circumstances in that Candace Parrow had placed that child down for a nap and another family member then discovered the child deceased.”
Ryan wrote that he got a recording of Parrow’s 911 call from Elizabethtown and found that she did not give her address correctly to the dispatcher, nor did she say exactly what was happening “but would just sporadically scream into the phone.” A neighbor then took the phone and clarified the address and said the baby appeared to be deceases.
Also in his sworn statement, Ryan wrote that he discovered “prior issues with detachment” between Parrow and the baby on Feb. 14 from a report with Berks County Children and Youth. A caseworker wrote in the report that Parrow made threats of suicide and grabbed a pair of scissors.
Ryan wrote that he interviewed Parrow days after the child’s death. Among other things, Parrow’s account of washing dishes did not hold up.
“When asked why the sink was dry she claimed she wiped down the sink after doing dishes,” Ryan wrote. “When asked about the food left in the sink, she simply claimed ‘I don’t do dishes often’ and provided no other answers to why there were no clean pots and pans nor why there was food in the dry sink.”
Ryan wrote that he got the final report on the baby’s death from the Dauphin County Coroner’s Office on Friday, Aug. 10; it showed the cause of death to be strangulation and suffocation and the manner of death to be homicide.
The sworn statement also noted that the baby’s father saw the baby on a video stream about an hour and a half before her death and the baby appeared healthy.
Ryan wrote that based on information from the baby’s father’s boss that he was at work, from neighbors and from Parrow herself, that Parrow was alone with the baby from about 2:30 p.m. until the baby was found deceased.
In the unrelated attack on the teenager, multiple witnesses told police that Skalla was the only one to throw punches, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office. Shearer was struck four times in the face and head and fell to the ground.
After the assault, Skalla left the park in a vehicle that was photographed by a witness. That photograph led police to the vehicle, owned by Skalla’s girlfriend. According to information gathered by police, Skalla told his girlfriend that he “blacked out,” the district attorney’s office reported.
The magisterial district court in Elizabethtown would not release the criminal complaint filed against Skalla, saying it would be made available after his arraignment.