Mankato Parents Charged with Abuse of Formerly Conjoined Twin
A Mankato couple was charged Wednesday for abusing their 4-month-old son, who was born as a conjoined twin. Valerie James, 19, and Robert Heck, 26, were charged with one count each of felony first-degree assault on the infant. Authorities do not know which of the two boys, Jordan or Jacob, was harmed.
The alleged abuse occured in January, when one of the two boys was brought to the Mayo children's hospital due to swelling. The AP reported that doctors there noticed fractures of the boy's legs and ribs. Doctors concluded that excessive force would have been needed to cause such injuries.
The father, Heck, has been charged for child abuse before. A previous girlfriend said that he abused three of her children, including reports of beating a 3-year-old and burning a 3-month old. Heck denied current allegations and declinded to speak further until after he met with his lawyer.
The Star Tribune spoke with Heck's grandfather, Duane Kopp. He said that he didn't believe that either Heck or James was capable of these crimes. He said that there was "no better father" then his grandson. Heck and James also have a 1-year-old daughter together.
Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson called the case "pretty ugly." He said that conjoined twins go through so much in just getting seperated that it's hard to see them go through something like this in addition. A court date for the case has been set for April 12.