Police: Dover Twp. man broke 9 of his infant's bones over about 2 months

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Cody Michael Stiffler

A Dover Township man is free on bail, accused of breaking nine of his baby boy's bones during repeated instances of abuse over the course of about two months, according to police allegations.

Cody Michael Stiffler, 23, of the 3500 block of Tower Road, is charged with the second-degree felonies of aggravated assault of a child under the age of 6 and child endangerment. He is free on $25,000 unsecured bail, meaning he didn't have to post any cash to remain free.

He claimed to suffer blackouts from the stress of the child crying, but he never mentioned them to the baby's mother, and police later learned Stiffler's father claimed to have blackouts after he was charged with physically abusing Stiffler's brother, court documents state.

According to charging documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police, the 7-month-old child most recently suffered a broken femur, which is the upper leg bone.

Police began investigating after being called to Memorial Hospital on April 29, where the baby was taken for the broken femur. There, police spoke with a York County Office of Children, Youth and Families caseworker, who said she suspected child abuse, documents state.

Nine broken bones: The baby was then examined at Hershey Medical Center, where doctors determined he had previously suffered two broken tibias, which are lower leg bones, a broken radius, which is a lower arm bone, and five broken ribs, charging documents state.

Including the femur fracture, that makes nine broken bones, documents indicate.

Stiffler, his baby and the child's mother had been living in the basement of Stiffler's de facto godparents, who were concerned enough about Stiffler's "rough handling" of his baby that they routinely monitored video from the monitoring system in the baby's room, according to charging documents.

The godmother told officers that "she has been concerned about Stiffler's behavior around (the baby) for several months," and that Stiffler has "become 'cold and distant'" toward everyone in the home, including his baby, documents state.

"She advised that she often hears Stiffler yelling at (the baby) while the two of them are alone in the basement," and told investigators that the baby was always crying when he was in the care of his father, according to charging documents.

Rough treatment? She told officers Stiffler would pick up his baby roughly by the armpits, causing the child's head to snap backward, police allege.

"She advised she has warned Stiffler about this several times," documents state and also said the baby-monitoring video feed "has turned into a vital tool" that allowed her to monitor the baby.

"She explained that the constant monitoring is due to her fears for (the baby's) safety," according to charging documents. "(She) advised that as things got worse in the home with Stiffler's behavior, she would make sure to take (the baby) from Stiffler's care as much as possible just to keep him happy and safe."

The godparents told investigators they were watching the video feed when they saw Stiffler grab both of his baby's legs and throw him against the inside of his crib, causing the woman to run downstairs to retrieve the baby and take him upstairs for the rest of the night, documents allege.

The godmother also reported that she noticed Stiffler was regularly giving the baby Tylenol — excessively, in her opinion, police allege. She reported telling the baby's mother to hide the Tylenol so Stiffler would stop giving the baby "so many doses," documents state.

'The worst scream': Both godparents told investigators that in the hours before the baby was diagnosed with a broken femur on April 29, they both heard the baby scream — "the worst scream" they had ever heard from the baby, and the godfather ran down to the basement to retrieve the child, police said.

The baby's leg was just dangling, and both godparents frantically rushed around getting the baby's safety seat and diaper bag ready to rush him to the hospital, according to police.

Stiffler seemed scared, "but not overly concerned" and sat smoking a cigarette as his godparents rushed around, charging documents state. Asked by them what happened, he answered as they said he always did, documents allege — by saying he didn't know what happened.

They told police they ordered Stiffler to take his baby to the emergency room.

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Stiffler later told officers he wasn't "prepared" to be a father "at such a young age" and claimed he suffers blackouts when under great stress, documents state.

But his godfather told police that Stiffler once told him that Stiffler's father avoided a prison sentence after being charged with abusing Stiffler's younger brother by claiming he suffered blackouts and couldn't remember what happened, documents allege.

Stiffler could not be reached for comment. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.