Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.









Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Death of an infant for whom she was baby-sitting
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 26, 1992
Date of arrest: August 20, 2011 (19 years later)
Date of birth: 1972
Victim profile: Ryan Baurley, 5-month-old
Method of murder: Suffocation and acute alcohol intoxication
Location: Bridgeport, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison on October 23, 2012

10- to 20-year term in 1992 Pa. infant death

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A suburban Philadelphia woman has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison in the death of an infant for whom she was baby-sitting two decades ago.

Reports say 39-year-old Melissa Haskell, formerly of Pottstown, choked back tears as she was sentenced Wednesday in Montgomery County Court on a third-degree murder conviction.

She again maintained her innocence in the August 1992 death of 5-month-old Ryan Baurley at a King of Prussia home, saying "I loved that child like he was my own."

Judge Garrett Page said "the jury has spoken" and imposed the maximum sentence allowed under 1992 law.

The death was originally attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, but a coroner later said the boy died of suffocation and acute alcohol intoxication.


Jury finds Montco nanny guilty of murder in baby death

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A jury has found a suburban Philadelphia nanny guilty of third-degree murder in the two-decade-old death of an infant.

The verdict came one day after Melissa Haskell refused to let the jury consider convicting her of a lesser manslaughter charge.

Haskell told a Montgomery County judge on Tuesday that she didn't want a general charge of criminal homicide to replace the murder charge.

Defense attorney Frank Genovese said his client has steadfastly maintained her innocence. Genovese said the murder charge required the killing to be an act of malice, not recklessness or negligence like manslaughter.

Prosecutors say Haskell confessed to killing 5-month-old Ryan Baurley, of Bridgeport, in August 1992. But the defense claimed Haskell was coerced into making that statement by her estranged husband during a custody dispute.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Bridgeport nanny goes for 'all or nothing' in murder trial

By Bonnie L. Cook -

June 13, 2012

The Bridgeport nanny standing trial in the death of an infant 20 years ago Tuesday waived her right to have the court consider her offense under the lesser legal standard for homicide.

With jurors out of hearing, Melissa Haskell, 38, who is charged with third-degree felony murder, told Montgomery County Court Judge Garrett D. Page that she did not wish to have the charge downgraded to involuntary manslaughter.

"So you're going with all or nothing," Page said. "Yes," Haskell replied.

If convicted of manslaughter, a first-degree misdemeanor in 1992, Haskell could have been sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

By insisting on the third-degree felony charge, she exposes herself to the far greater penalty of 10 to 20 years in jail.

Asked to explain his client's thinking, defense counsel Frank Genovese said: "She has steadily maintained her innocence from the first day we met.

“She didn't want to create a situation where that would be compromised, and the jury would find her guilty of involuntary manslaughter. She didn't want to create that risk."

The development came near the end of the seventh day of testimony before the jury of eight men and four women. The defense rested in late afternoon; closing arguments begin early Wednesday.

In a calm, clear voice, Haskell also told Page from the witness stand that she would not testify in her own defense. She does not have to, and her decision cannot be used against her.

"I 100 percent agree with it — not to testify," Genovese said in a news briefing in the Norristown courtroom.

Haskell, then 18, was caring for five-month-old Ryan Baurley in Bridgeport on Aug. 26, 1992, when he died. The coroner attributed his death to sudden infant death syndrome.

The case was reopened in 2011 when Haskell's estranged husband, whom she was fighting for custody of their own 6-year-old son, approached police.

Michael Leflar told investigators she had told him she "put her hand over the baby's mouth and nose" to quiet his crying while she was ill from heroin withdrawal.

After reviewing the case, Coroner Walter I. Hofman changed the cause of death to suffocation, with a secondary cause of acute alcohol intoxication, due to high blood-alcohol levels in a sample of the baby's blood.

Hofman changed the manner of death to homicide, the basis for the murder charge against Haskell.

During testimony Tuesday, two expert witnesses tried to challenge Hofman's interpretation of details in the autopsy report.

George Jackson, a forensic toxicologist who works in Bensalem, testified he could not rule out fermentation of the blood sample as the source of the high alcohol readings. The prosecution had tried to make a case that Haskell gave the baby whiskey to quiet him.

Edward Chmara, a New Jersey forensic pathologist, testified that both cause and manner of death should be ruled "undetermined."

"There is no scientific evidence to back up suffocation. There are no photos to back up suffocation. There is nothing that changed except a statement that came forward from a concerned citizen," he testified.

Chmara testified that most of the baby's organs showed congestion or the backup of fluids typical of any death. That would not necessarily be caused by suffocation, he testified.

He regarded as unremarkable the baby's enlarged brain and larynx, which Hofman had testified were abnormally swollen, pointing to suffocation.

As a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, Hofman said his reading of the enlarged organs as abnormal came straight out of the pediatrics textbook.

"The brain is too big, the lungs and liver are congested. All of these are abnormal findings," Hofman testified.


Ex-husband testifies against alleged infant killer Melissa Haskell

By Jenny DeHuff -

June 8, 2012

COURTHOUSE — A lot of weight hinges on the value of a pinky swear, as the ex-husband of the babysitter charged with the murder of an infant testified Friday morning.

Michael Leflar wore a wire when he got Melissa Haskell to admit to the killing of 5-month old Ryan Baurley nearly 20 years ago. The hour-long tape was played in court Thursday and the jury heard testimony of Leflar Friday morning, saying his ex-wife, Melissa Haskell, “pinky” swore she would never do anything to hurt their son.

On the stand for more than two hours Friday morning, Leflar was hammered by defense attorney Marty Mullaney on whether or not he had a scheme in mind to get Haskell arrested in order to prevent her from obtaining partial custody of their son.

“How many different times did you get her to say ‘them words,’” Mullaney asked.

The words in question are the admission of guilt Haskell made over the tape, wherein she is heard saying, “I will never, ever, ever put my hand over (our son’s) mouth like I did to that baby.” She is heard on the tape saying it several times as Leflar prompts her, “I want to hear them words.”

In court Friday, Mullaney depicted the operation as a trap conceived by Leflar and in conjunction with county detectives to get Haskell to admit to Baurley’s murder, a death previously determined to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“Your plan, for it to be successful, is to have Melissa Haskell found guilty by this jury, isn’t it?” said Mullaney. “Your plan is still in motion, isn’t it?”

Leflar testified he was only trying to protect his son, who he thought was in danger in the custody of Haskell, who had a long history of drug use. He kept the secret until last year, when he agreed to cooperate with detectives in order to obtain full custody of his son, Michael, and prevent Haskell from ever getting near him.

“For the safety of my son,” Leflar testified.

“It could happen to him like it did before. When Missy told me her story, I was afraid it could happen to my son. I had to keep my son away from a monster.”

Yet Mullaney argued it was not until Haskell filed for custody of their son that Leflar felt prompted to share her secret. Under cross-examination, Mullaney asked Leflar if he would have ever come forward, had the potential for Haskell to get 50-50 custody prevailed. Haskell and Leflar’s eyes did not meet once in court.

Five days after the recorded alleged confession, Leflar filed an emergency petition to temporarily suspend Haskell’s custody of their son.

The defense argues Haskell was in an emotionally compromised state and would have said anything to Leflar to earn his trust.

Three other witnesses for the Commonwealth testified Friday that Leflar recalled the confession Haskell made to him some time in the years following the Aug. 26 1992 murder of Baurley.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Henry Callithen said Leflar told him Haskell somehow suffocated a baby many years ago, yet wanted her to “get her life straightened out so they could be a family again.”

Paul Leflar, the older brother of Michael Leflar, testified that his brother told him about Haskell’s confession 10 years ago and “he had a hard time telling me.”

“It hits you hard,” said Leflar, a shaggy-haired caddy for Philadelphia Country Club.

“I went to a priest because I needed some guidance. He told me to keep it under, because of the problems that would occur. To take the burden off of me, he told me to take it back to the family. We talked about what a horrible thing it was to have inside of you. It was tearing (Leflar) up inside.”

Joseph Mariani, Michael Leflar’s boss of 12 years and owner of a local excavating company, testified that Leflar told him too, many years ago.

“He told me (Haskell) was babysitting, the baby was crying a lot and she put her hand over the baby’s mouth. (Leflar) was upset at the time.”

Patricia Dunn, the sister of Michael Baurley, Ryan’s father, testified that on the day of Ryan’s death, Haskell approached her and demanded to be paid for a week’s worth of babysitting.

“Melissa came right up to me and wanted to talk to me. She was very matter-of-fact, almost business-like,” said Dunn.

“She told me (Baurley) owed her a week’s pay and she wanted her money.”

Dunn said she paid her $250 in cash to prevent her from asking Baurley directly, on the day he was making funeral arrangements for his son.

Although Leflar told several people about Haskell’s alleged confession, none went to police with the information until the bitter custody battle began last year


Trial question: How did Montco baby die 20 years ago?

By Bonnie L. Cook -

June 7, 2012

Did the babysitter kill the child in her care that August morning in 1992, or did 5-month-old Ryan Baurley slip away due to sudden infant death syndrome, as experts initially ruled?

That question kept the prosecution and defense in the murder trial of Melissa Haskell, 38, of Bridgeport, occupied Wednesday during the third day of testimony in Montgomery County Court.

Three expert witnesses — a forensic toxicologist, a forensic pathologist, and a neonatologist — all took the stand for the commonwealth, saying the infant did not die without an "intervenor."

The child's blood was drawn during an autopsy Aug. 27, 1992. In tests done four days apart in September 1992, the child's blood alcohol level was 0.03 and 0.04 percent, the toxicologist testified.

Calculations based on the 20-year-old test data showed that "at least some of this alcohol was there prior to his death," he testified.

But in science things are messy, acknowledged Robert Middleberg, laboratory director of National Medical Services in Willow Grove, which did the testing.

"I'd like to tell you that when you die, it's a beautiful thing, but it is not like on TV. Toxicology samples can be contaminated," he said.

In addition, he testified, the blood sample in a special red-topped tube did not contain preservatives. Further, records were not kept on how warm it became as it was moved from autopsy room to lab, and fermentation, which produces alcohol after death, could have set in.

"Can you exclude postmortem production as the source of the blood alcohol found in Ryan Baurley?" defense counsel Frank Genovese pressed.

"No," replied Middleberg.

County Coroner Walter I. Hofman, a forensic pathologist, told how he was asked by police investigators in May 2011 to reopen the baby's medical file because new evidence had emerged.

That evidence was a recorded conversation in which Haskell told her ex-husband that she would never hold her hand over their own child's mouth and nose, "so he can't breathe, as I did that baby."

While sudden infant death syndrome, Hofman testified, is a term used when nothing will explain why an apparently healthy infant dies, there were signs pointing to the cause for the child's death.

Hofman said the baby's liver, kidneys, brain, and voice box were enlarged, and a frothy fluid was coming up out of his lungs. That — and the high blood-alcohol levels — pointed to suffocation, he said, as the cause of death.

On cross examination, Genovese tried to undercut Hofman's opinion by implying that it was unduly influenced by Haskell's statement about smothering "that baby."

"You relied at least in part on the statement of Melissa Haskell, didn't you?" Genovese said.

"That — and the alcohol," Hofman retorted.

Alan Spitzer, a neonatologist now working in Florida, said sudden infant death syndrome is most likely to happen at night; Ryan died in the morning.

In cases of sudden infant death syndrome, the baby simply stops breathing and the nervous system doesn't object.

Ryan's death was much more violent, he testified.

"It's very different from when the baby is struggling to breathe. It can't get fresh air in and you begin to go through the changes mentioned in the autopsy," Spitzer said.


Woman arrested in 1992 death of infant boy

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Pennsylvania woman has been charged with killing an infant who was in her care 19 years ago, authorities announced Monday.

Melissa Haskell, 38, of Bridgeport was arrested Saturday and charged with third-degree murder in the death of 5-month-old Ryan Bauerly. She was ordered held without bail at the Montgomery County prison pending a preliminary hearing Aug. 30.

"The very recent developments in this investigation has once again ripped open the wounds that are very difficult to heal for our family," the victim's father Michael Baurley said.

Haskell, who was Ryan's baby sitter from the time he was a month old, was alone with him in his family's Upper Merion Township home when he died Aug. 26, 1992, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Monday.

Haskell, then 19, told police she found Ryan unresponsive in his crib, and the county coroner's office concluded the cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome.

Authorities received a tip in April from someone claiming Haskell admitted suffocating the baby. Police said they reopened the investigation and recorded a conversation in which Haskell described putting her hand over the infant's mouth and killing him.

Ferman said Haskell, who was battling heroin withdrawal, became frustrated with the crying baby.

"She was having trouble caring for the child and she was not able to deal with the child crying and a typical infant behavior because of her own personal difficulties," Ferman said.

Despite the sudden infant death syndrome ruling, the 1992 coroner's report did note that Ryan had bruising consistent with suffocation, as well as a blood alcohol level of .04 percent. Adults are considered too drunk to drive with a level higher than .08 percent.

After reviewing the original autopsy findings along with additional medical information and new information gathered during the investigation, the county coroner changed its report to conclude Ryan was killed by suffocation with acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing factor.

Haskell was in prison and unavailable for comment. It could not be immediately determined whether she had an attorney.

Meantime, Ryan Baurley's family was asking for privacy as they tried to deal with these devastating developments on their child's death.

"He was our first son and he was a beautiful child, a gift from God and we miss him dearly," Michael Baurley said.


Melissa Haskell


The victim

5-month-old Ryan Baurley



home last updates contact