Police charge Essex man in shaking death of stepson

An Essex man has been charged with shaking his 15-month-old stepson to death, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Leroy Edward VanKirk Jr., 22, of the first block of Eddystone Place has been in jail on child abuse, assault and attempted-murder charges since Friday, when the baby was flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital. The child, Alexander William Hauhn, died at the hospital the next day, police said.


After an autopsy, the death was ruled a homicide caused by head trauma, police said. The charges against VanKirk were upgraded to first-degree murder late Monday, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

VanKirk was being held without bail yesterday at the county Detention Center.


VanKirk, who is unemployed, called 911 about 3 p.m. Friday, police said.

He initially told officers and paramedics that his stepson had fallen while he was giving him a bath, according to charging documents filed in District Court.

After being told that the baby's injuries were not consistent with a fall, VanKirk acknowledged that he "lost control" and shook the baby to get him to stop crying, police said in court papers.

The child's mother was at work at the time, said Vinson.

Neighbors in the apartment complex said they rarely saw the couple and child.