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Infant with 36 broken ribs dies from trauma allegedly inflicted by Iowa man, leading to murder charge

DES MOINES – An infant with 36 broken ribs and bleeding in the brain died from trauma allegedly inflicted by an Iowa man, leading to a murder charge.

On April 30th, 2018, at approximately 6:18 a.m., the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) was contacted by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) regarding a four week old male child that was found to have brain injuries.  Iowa DHS investigators reported that the child, which had been living at 23837 90th Street, a rural address outside of Westgate, Iowa, had been taken to Community Memorial Hospital in Sumner the night before, after it was reported by Holten’s guardians that he was “seizing”.  The child was then subsequently transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) in Iowa City.  The FCSO subsequently contacted the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for assistance and an investigation was initiated.  On May 27th, 2018, the victim, identified as Holten Smith, died as a result of his injuries, which according to a report, included as many as 36 broken ribs and bleeding on the brain.

On May 16th, 2019, 22 year old Dean Alan Hettinger, of Westgate, Iowa, was arrested by Deputies with the FCSO and Agents with the Iowa DCI for one count of Murder in the First Degree, a class “A” felony, and Child Endangerment Causing Death, a class “B” felony.  Hettinger was one of Holten’s caretakers at the time of his death.  Hettinger was taken into custody at the Black Hawk County Jail, where he was being incarcerated on unrelated charges.  Hettinger was taken to the Fayette County Jail and is being held on a one million dollar bond. It should be noted that a criminal charge is merely an accusation and all suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The FCSO was assisted in this investigation by the Iowa DCI,  the Iowa DHS, the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics, The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Fayette County Attorney’s Office, and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office Area Prosecutions Division.

Dean Alan Hettinger
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