Authorities search cellphones for clues in child’s death

By Joe Beck

Search warrant documents filed in Shenandoah County Circuit Court link an investigation into the death of a 7-month-old boy in Mount Jackson to the crimes of homicide, child abuse and child endangerment.

The documents confirm authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into the death of the boy at an apartment building at 6286 Railroad St. on Sept. 11. No cause of death has been disclosed.

The documents, filed Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, reveal that authorities have focused on electronic data stored on four cellphones, one belonging to the boy’s father, Daryl Donovan Jr. Search warrants were also obtained for cellphones belonging to Shannon Elder, Megan Elder, and another phone discovered on a window sill and used by unspecified residents at the apartment.

An affidavit for another search warrant, executed at the apartment, states that authorities were suspicious of inconsistencies in the timelines given by adults who last saw the child alive in the late evening hours of Sept. 10 and the time he was pronounced dead in the rear of an ambulance at 2:10 a.m. Sept. 11.

“The initial responding officer, C.M. Himelright, arrived on the scene at the approximate time of (2:04 a.m.) to find the decedent’s father, Daryl Donovan Jr., within the confines of the residence with the child in his arms,” one affidavit stated.

Himelright and members of the Mount Jackson Volunteer Rescue Squad then took over and tried to revive the child, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit, written by Mount Jackson Police Chief J.D Fadley, states that investigators found several cellphones were used “prior to, during and after the alleged offenses” to notify family and friends and in making the initial 911 call.

“The information collected from these devices will assist in gathering further witnesses, obtaining any statements made via text by the parties involved, as well as confirm or discount any statements made by individuals who have been interviewed at this point in the investigation,” the affidavit states.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com