RIPLEY, W.Va. — A Jackson County man has been arrested and charged with the murder of his baby daughter, more than a year after she had been hospitalized due to injuries allegedly caused by her father.
Speaking to MetroNews on Friday, Jackson County Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger said Jeffrey Hoskins, 26 of Ripley, has been charged with first-degree murder and death by child abuse.
Hoskins, who Mellinger said has been in and out of jail, was initially arrested in October 2018 and charged with child abuse by a parent resulting in serious injury. According to Mellinger, the 6-month old child was found by her mother unconscious, not breathing and suffering from cardiac arrest.
The child died at a local hospital earlier this month after being on life support and through investigation and questioning, Mellinger said what had happened became clear.
“It was apparent that the child’s father strangled the child,” Mellinger said. “Grabbing the child by the throat and spinning her in the air while he strangled her.
“Through testing and various investigations there, there were older injuries there in the brain and skull.”
Hoskins had originally told investigators with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the West Virginia State Police that the baby had choked while he was feeding her.
Further into the investigation, Hoskins admitted to authorities that he shook the baby and choked her, and said he had done so more times in the past.
“In a subsequent interview with the suspect, the child’s father Jeffrey Hoskins, he confessed to not only strangling the child but attempting on four previous occasions to smother the child,” Mellinger said.
“Through the medical testing at the hospital, along with the medical opinion of the doctors there, and combined with Mr. Hoskins confession itself, suggests that there were multiple occasions prior to this one here where the baby was smothered and/or assaulted by the same father.”
Hoskins has been incarcerated in the Central Regional Jail since January 7 when he was picked up on another charge. He had been arrested in Calhoun County for this incident.
Mellinger said he is the only suspect in regards to the death of a child but he left the door open to other charges in the case or co-defendants.
Following the infant’s death, a special grand jury was convened to hear the case.
“Nobody relishes the idea of working a murder investigation, let alone one on a six-month-old child,” he said.
“We just have to jump in feet first and give it the utmost attention and respect. Hopefully, things work out in the end with respect to the honor and dignity of the small little girl.”