The Associated Press, June 2, 1999

Infant punished for crying dies

Authorities charge man with death of girlfriend's child KILN, Miss. - John Henry Seeling IV is behind bars, charged with capital murder in the weekend killing of his girlfriend's 5-month-old baby, authorities say.

Hancock County authorities told a Monday news conference that the 22-pound Draven Archer was beaten to death on Saturday while her mother was out of their home.

"It's a very emotional situation when you get a child like that who can't protect herself," Sheriff Ronnie Peterson said. Peterson said Seeling, a former resident of Destrahan, La., called the sheriff's office about 8:30 p.m. Saturday to say that the infant had stopped breathing.

The child was taken to Hancock Medical Center, where medical personnel tried to revive her. Peterson said he believes the child was dead on arrival. Initially, police said, Seeling told them that he hit Draven's back to dislodge something in her throat when she started choking while he was feeding her.

But police were suspicious. The infant had a black eye and many visible black-and-blue bruises on her back. An autopsy performed later showed that she also had fractured ribs and hemorrhaging. The retina of one eye had been pulled loose. Peterson said Seeling changed his story during a lengthy interview on Sunday.

Seeling said he lost it on Saturday when the phone was ringing, the TV was on and Draven would not quit crying. Seeling was arrested after the interview.

He took the child's head and knocked it against the wall, shook her real hard and slammed her on the floor, Investigator Nathan Hoda said. Seeling had lived with Draven's mother for about three months. Police have not thoroughly interviewed Sheree L. Archer, 28, who had left Draven with Seeling while she took another daughter to the home of her husband, from whom she is separated.

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