A Florida man, Joseph Troy Napier, 30, has been apprehended and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child following the death of his 2-month-old daughter, Iris Napier, in 2021. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office reported that Napier was taken into custody last Thursday.
On May 28, 2021, at around 6:42 p.m., emergency services were alerted to an unresponsive infant at a residence on 6th Avenue in Vero Beach. The caller, later identified as Napier, was instructed by the dispatcher to lay the child on the floor and was guided on how to perform CPR. Upon arrival, first responders identified Napier as the father of the infant and took over the CPR efforts while rushing the child to an ambulance. The infant’s 18-month-old sibling was also present at the scene.
Emergency Medical Services personnel reported that the infant showed no signs of heart activity when she was transported to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. Despite multiple attempts by medics to clear the child’s airways, no obstructions were found. Napier told deputies that he had seen a small white object in the back of the infant’s mouth and that she had been choking. He also claimed that he had left the child unattended with his 18-month-old daughter for about 10 minutes.
However, detectives found discrepancies in Napier’s account of events, noting that he had spent approximately 30 minutes on his cell phone, making his timeline inaccurate. In the emergency room, doctors discovered a baby wipe lodged deep in Iris’s throat. Medical professionals stated that it would have been impossible for the infant to have swallowed the wipe on her own due to her age and lack of motor functions.
Iris was later transferred to Nemours Children’s Hospital, where she tragically succumbed to her injuries. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia due to an obstruction of the airway by a foreign object. The manner of death was listed as unknown.
In a subsequent interview, Iris’s grandfather, Joseph Miller, who also resided at the 6th Avenue home, reported that he had found Napier yelling at the baby less than an hour before the 911 call was made. Iris’s pediatrician also told police that she did not believe Iris could have inhaled an entire baby wipe on her own, suggesting that someone must have placed it there.
Napier suggested multiple times during interviews with detectives that Iris’s sibling could have been responsible for the wipe in her throat. However, investigators refuted this claim, stating that measurements of the 18-month-old’s hands and fingers indicated it would have been impossible for her to place the wipe in Iris’s throat. They concluded that only an adult could have forced the wipe down the infant’s throat.