Father charged in 5-month-old son’s death

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Jason Curtis faces three felony counts in July incident

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

    A 35-year old Glenwood man was in a Mills County courtroom Thursday facing three felony counts stemming from the death of his infant son in July.
    Jason Curtis, 35, is charged with allegedly causing the death of his 5-month old son, Jackson Curtis in a July 14, incident. After a three-month investigation by the Glenwood Police Department with assistance from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, Curtis was arrested Wednesday, Oct. 19 on felony warrants for child endangerment, neglect of a dependent person and willful injury.
    According to court filings, Jason Curtis and 5-month-old Jackson were alone in the  home he shares with Chrissy Vyborny and their children on the morning of July 14, when he called the Mills County 911 Center stating his son Jackson was not, or was barely, breathing. Jackson was found unresponsive with no heartbeat or pulse and his skin a bluish color by Glenwood Fire and Rescue. He was taken to Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs where he was pronounced dead at 11:44 a.m.
    While at the hospital Jason Curtis made statements Jackson was being treated for an upper respiratory infection and the medication was causing him to react negatively. Jason Curtis went on to say he gave Jackson his medication that morning, fed him and laid him down for a nap. When he went to check on his son some time later, he said he found Jackson barely or not breathing at all.
    After Jackson was pronounce dead, a CT scan was taken of his head and doctors identified areas of hemorrhaging on the outside of his brain consistent with injuries of child abuse delivered by an adult.
    The Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy of Jackson Curtis. The cause of death was found to be head injuries and the manner of death was ruled homicide.
    Danie Dawson, an investigator with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation declined to discuss the specifics of the investigation but did say they still don’t have a definitive explanation of what happened that morning with Jason Curtis and Jackson Curtis.
    “No confessions were given as to what happened that morning,” Dawson said. “It’s one of those things where we don’t know what we don’t know. We know there was head trauma and the arrest warrant says how we know that.”
    Child endangerment resulting in the death of a minor child is a Class "B" felony. If convicted of Curtis could face up to 25 years in prison. Neglect of a dependent person and willful injury are both Class C felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a potential fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
    At the time of July 2011 incident, Jason Curtis was on two-years supervised probation for an incident the previous July with his then four month old daughter identified in court documents as “Jane Doe.” In that incident, Curtis and Chrissy Vyborny, the biological parents of Jane Doe, plead guilty to charges of child endangerment resulting in serious injury, a Class C felony.
    According to documents in the July 2010 case,  Jane Doe was discovered to have a broken right arm and right clavicle by her doctor consistent with excessive or abusive force. An investigation was launched after a doctor notified DHS. Curtis and Vyborny admitted to investigators they noticed their daughter was favoring her left arm and was unusually fussy but decided to wait to have her checked out by doctors until a regularly scheduled doctor appointment on the afternoon of July 9, more that 24 hours after they noticed the injuries.
    A DHS Abuse Investigator report concluded that while the “perpetrator” of the injuries to Jane Doe were unknown, it went on to conclude Curtis and Vyborny failed to provide proper supervision and denied critical care.
    Jason Curtis plead guilty to the child endangerment charge and was give a deferred sentence, two years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $1000 fine. Vyborny served one year of supervised probation and paid a $625 fine.
    The Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office will be handling Curtis’ prosecution in the most recent case after Mills County Attorney Eric Hansen recused himself due to a conflict of interest in his office. Hansen’s assistant, Tricia McSorley represented Curtis in the July 2010 incident.
    Curtis was given a $25,000 cash bond but remains in the Mills County Jail. He is represented by Patrick Sondag of Council Bluffs.