October 5, 1995 in Nation/World

One More Infant Falls Victim To Abuse 10-Month-Old Valley Girl Dies After Alleged Assault By Mother’s Boyfriend

Bonnie Harris Brian Coddington Contri Staff writer
 

(From For the Record, Friday, October 6, 1995:) Kourtenay Pelletier suffered brain damage at age 3 months when she was thrown on a sofa last Dec. 7. A list in Thursday’s paper incorrectly said the girl had died from her injuries.

Michael Rydholm couldn’t stop the baby’s crying. Shaking her didn’t work, he told Spokane sheriff’s detectives.

The 24-year-old Spokane Valley man said he grabbed the infant by her clothing, threw her into a bedroom and slammed the door shut.

That worked, he told detectives. Finally, silence.

But Chelsey York apparently struck her head in the process. She fractured her skull and died Wednesday night at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Rydholm, who’d been baby-sitting the 10-monthold for his girlfriend at his apartment Tuesday evening, was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail.

It’s a scene that’s becoming all too familiar to police and social workers on both sides of the Idaho-Washington border.

So far this year, authorities say, at least five young children in the region have died of abuse.

Just last week, a Coeur d’Alene couple was arrested for injuring a child after the woman’s 2-year-old daughter died from head trauma. Police believe the woman and boyfriend abused the toddler.

In Tuesday’s Spokane case, Rydholm was charged with first-degree assault. That likely will be changed to murder because of Chelsey’s death.

A judge on Wednesday set Rydholm’s bail at $150,000.

The assault occurred sometime after 8 p.m., when Chelsey’s mother, Dannette York, dropped off her baby at Rydholm’s apartment on North Wilbur.

When he realized the injured girl was having trouble breathing, he took her to a neighbor’s apartment and asked to use the telephone. His wasn’t working, he told neighbor Dee Gockley.

“He knocked on my door and had the baby in his hands,” said Gockley, who hadn’t talked to Rydholm before Tuesday. Then he put the infant on her kitchen counter next to the sink and started CPR.

Gockley said she talked to 911 operators on the telephone and relayed CPR instructions to Rydholm. “I told him he did a good job,” she said.

Paramedics showed up just before 11 p.m. Rydholm told them Chelsey fell about 3 feet out of her crib. The side rail was down on the crib in Rydholm’s apartment, medics said.

Later at the hospital, Rydholm admitted shaking and throwing her, sheriff’s detectives said.

He said he “thought she hit the crib,” Detective Rick Grabenstein said in a report. “She quit crying at that time.”

Rydholm is separated from his wife, and the two have a 5-month-old son together. He has been seeing York since last spring, according to her relatives.

Dannette York and her estranged husband, Michael “Doak” York, declined to comment.

The two separated April 15 and have since filed for divorce.

Friends of the couple said they don’t believe Tuesday’s assault was the first by Rydholm on Chelsey.

Two months ago, the baby’s arm was broken and she had to wear a cast, they said. Other bruises appeared on Chelsey’s body but her mother dismissed them as typical “baby bumps,” said one friend, who didn’t want to be identified.

“We got worried about (Chelsey),” the friend said. “And Dannette started letting herself go to hell. She wasn’t taking care of herself like she used to.”

At least two friends reported Dannette York to CPS, they said. Investigators showed up a couple of weeks ago at the 24-year-old mother’s house in north Spokane.

“I don’t know what happened,” one friend said. “I guess they didn’t find anything wrong.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RECENT VICTIMS Authorities say these young children also died of abuse in recent months. Christina Campanelli, 2, died of head injuries on Sept. 24. The girl’s mother, Eileen Campanelli, and her boyfriend, Federico Cortez, both of Rathdrum, Idaho, were arrested Friday for injury to a child. Kory Holbrook, 2, died of severe head injuries Aug. 18. His mother’s boyfriend, Gavin Ritzler, 26, of Spokane, is charged with second-degree murder. Alexander Buss, 2, died July 19 of a severe blow to the head. His mother’s boyfriend, Kevin B. Merwin, of Athol, Idaho, was charged with injury to a child. Devin Erb, 22 months, died after a severe beating April 3. His mother’s boyfriend, Kenneth E. Galloway, 28, of Spokane, was convicted of the crime. Courtney Pelletier, 3 months, died after her father threw her at a sofa last Dec. 7. The father, David Pelletier, 20, of Spokane, was convicted of the crime. - Gita Sitaramiah

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bonnie Harris Staff writer Staff writer Brian Coddington contributed to this report.

This sidebar appeared with the story: RECENT VICTIMS Authorities say these young children also died of abuse in recent months. Christina Campanelli, 2, died of head injuries on Sept. 24. The girl’s mother, Eileen Campanelli, and her boyfriend, Federico Cortez, both of Rathdrum, Idaho, were arrested Friday for injury to a child. Kory Holbrook, 2, died of severe head injuries Aug. 18. His mother’s boyfriend, Gavin Ritzler, 26, of Spokane, is charged with second-degree murder. Alexander Buss, 2, died July 19 of a severe blow to the head. His mother’s boyfriend, Kevin B. Merwin, of Athol, Idaho, was charged with injury to a child. Devin Erb, 22 months, died after a severe beating April 3. His mother’s boyfriend, Kenneth E. Galloway, 28, of Spokane, was convicted of the crime. Courtney Pelletier, 3 months, died after her father threw her at a sofa last Dec. 7. The father, David Pelletier, 20, of Spokane, was convicted of the crime. - Gita Sitaramiah

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bonnie Harris Staff writer Staff writer Brian Coddington contributed to this report.


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