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Mahwah Parents Charged With Murder Of Crying 4-Month-Old Son

William Herring, Brianna Brochhausen
William Herring, Brianna Brochhausen Photo Credit: COURTESY: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

A Mahwah couple, frustrated because their 4-month-old twin son wouldn’t stop crying, put him on his stomach and pulled a comforter over his head as they went outside their motel room to smoke – killing him, said authorities who charged both with murder.

William Herring, 42, and Brianna Brochhausen, 22, were living at the Springfield Township hotel in Burlington County when police were called there on Feb. 14, authorities said.

Herring and Brochhausen “were frustrated because their son, Hunter, would not stop crying on that night and decided he needed to be placed in a ‘time out’,” a joint release issued by the New Jersey State Police and Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina says.

“He was positioned on his stomach on the bed, and the comforter was pulled over him, covering his head and entire body,” the release says. “The parents then went outside to smoke cigarettes, returning to the room approximately 10 minutes later, where they discovered that Hunter was not breathing and was unresponsive.”

Hunter was taken to Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly and immediately transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “where he had minimal brain activity and was breathing with the assistance of a respirator,” the release says.

He died March 3 after life support was removed.

Authorities at first charged the couple with child endangerment.

Philadelphia Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Albert Chu later ruled that Hunter’s death was a homicide due to “complications of suffocation.”

Authorities, in turn, re-arrested the couple Monday on murder charges. A detention hearing was planned for later this week.

Hunter and his twin sister, Harley, were born prematurely and had to be hospitalized before their parents could take them home, a close family friend told Daily Voice.

“The thoughtless actions of these individuals ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life,” said NJ State Police Col. Patrick J. Callahan. “I commend the detectives of our Homicide South Unit and Criminal Investigation Office for their commitment and dedication to finding justice for Baby Hunter.”

The responsibilities of a new parent “can sometimes be overwhelming,” said Coffina, the Burlington County prosecutor. “Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child.”

Parents Anonymous of New Jersey offers parent support groups. It also provides a 24-hour Stressline/Family Helpline to listen to the concerns of parents and provides referral and crisis intervention information.


New Jersey also has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents or their representatives to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid or rescue squad that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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