Cops: Airman killed toddler during mother's deployment

Delaware State Police on Tuesday arrested a 25-year-old airman for allegedly killing a toddler on Nov. 3, 2012 during the military deployment of the child’s mother.

Investigators said 25-year-old airman Justin Corbett shortly before 4 p.m. called 911 from his residence in Dover Air Force Base housing to report a 21-month old child, Evan Dudley, was unconscious after falling down a flight of eight carpeted stairs. Police said the child’s mother, also an airman assigned to the base, had entrusted Corbett to be Dudley’s primary caregiver while she was away on duty.

Dudley was rushed to Kent General Hospital and transferred to the Alfred l. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, where he was admitted in critical condition for head trauma and multiple contusions. He died of his injuries just after midnight the next morning.

Police said an autopsy conducted Nov. 7 by the Delaware Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed Dudley suffered multiple injuries, including brain swelling and bleeding, contusions on his head and retinal and other eye injuries. The cause of death was ruled to be homicide by blunt force trauma.

Following a comprehensive investigation and review by the Delaware State Police and Attorney General’s Office, the case was submitted to a child abuse expert and pediatric pathologist for review “due to the discovery of undisclosed unique injuries noted during the autopsy,” according to a release from Delaware State Police. Both experts agreed the child was a victim of a homicide, investigators said.

State troopers on Tuesday obtained warrants for Corbett’s arrest in connection with Dudley’s death. Corbett was taken into custody at his Dover Air Force Base residence and transported to Delaware State Police Troop 3. There, he was formally charged with murder by abuse or neglect recklessly causing the death of a child.

Corbett was arraigned and jailed at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Facility on $100,000 cash bond. 

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.