Region 8 Baby Dead, Father Arrested for Murder

December 5, 2006 - Posted at 6:11 p.m. CST

KENNETT, MO - A Region 8 baby is dead and his father sits behind bars for his murder. 29-year-old Eric Lee Hopper was arrested Saturday in Kennett for the death of four-month-old David Lee Tyler Mitchell. And as horrific as this child abuse story is, police say this still isn't an open and closed case.

"Honey, he's no murder, he's no murder," said Glenda Queen, Hopper's mother.

Queen is quick to defend her son, but the story gets blurry from there.

Queen says Hopper was watching his infant son on Saturday and had called his mom for help when the child began crying from a rash.

"I went over there and he (Hopper) was in that chair crying and holding that baby like this and that baby was already dead and then he told me that he had accidentally dropped the baby, it slipped out of his arms," told Queen to K8 reporter Heather Flanigan

"What did you do then?" asked Flanigan.

"I turned around and said, we'll we are just going to have to get a hold of it's momma...and so that's what my state of mind was, to get a hold of it's momma," replied Queen.

Police aren't saying exactly how baby David's body got from Hopper's home on Seely Street to where officers were performed CPR at Queen's home on Dolph Street.

"The officers were dispatched to the house on Dolph Street where they attempted to perform CPR.  The officers then met the ambulance somewhere around Floyd Street where at that time the child was transferred to the ambulance service and they took the baby in," said Lt. Detective Tim Trowbridge of the Kennett Police Department.

The infant was pronounced dead at the Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center and Hopper was later arrested.

"I think they are full of crap because accidents happen and especially when you take somebody who has had no sleep at all and then he end up with the baby," said Queen.

"Why didn't he have any sleep?" asked Flanigan.

"I told you he worked 7:00-7:00.  7:00 in the night to 7:00 in the morning," said Queen.

"Being a father myself, it was just tough to even look at the body of the small child and it's really, really rough.  And then you know talking to the people involved in the case, yea, it's really heart wrenching.  It really is," said Trowbridge.

Police officials say it's about 15 years since a child has been a victim of a homicide in Kennett and they say many details will continue to come out as this investigation continues to unfold.

Baby David was normally in his mother Angie Snider's custody but was staying with Hopper for the weekend.  Hopper faces charges of second degree murder and child abuse.  He is currently in the Dunklin County jail on a $100,000 dollar bond.