KPD e-News Release: Suspect in Custody in “Shaken Baby Syndrome” Investigation

Kingsport Police Department

200 Shelby Street • Kingsport, TN 37660

ThomasMPatton • 423-229-9433 (Desk) • 423-224-2786 (FAX)

SUBJECT: Suspect in Custody in “Shaken Baby Syndrome” Investigation
DATE: December 17, 2014
On November 26, 2014, shortly after midnight, Kingsport Police Patrol Officers were called to the Holston Valley Medical Center Pediatric Unit in reference to a possible case of child abuse. Responding officers spoke with a physician who advised them that he was treating a six month old male child with symptoms indicative of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” His diagnosis was based on the results of a CT scan, as well as observations of the child vomiting and having seizures, all of which were consistent with neurological damage. The case was immediately turned over to detectives from the K.P.D. Criminal Investigations Division who specialize in child abuse investigations. Their subsequent investigation revealed the following:

On November 25, 2014 James R. Casteel, who may or may not be the biological father of the child, was alone with the child in a storage building, located behind a residence at 906 Riverside Avenue in Kingsport. Casteel had been living in this storage building with the child for approximately two weeks. The storage building was nothing more than a “yard barn” and had no running water.

At approximately 4:30 AM, Mr. Casteel was awakened by the child crying. Mr. Casteel changed the child’s diaper and fed him; however, he continued to cry. He then shook the child and threw him down on the bed in an attempt to stop the crying. Mr. Casteel then went back to sleep for a period of nearly twelve hours.

At approximately 4:00 PM, Mr. Casteel’s mother came to the storage building and found the child to be extremely lethargic and unresponsive. His eyes were rolled back in his head and he was not moving his limbs. She immediately called 9-1-1. Sullivan County E.M.S. responded and transported the child to Holston Valley Medical Center for emergency care.

When patrol officers first spoke with Mr. Casteel at the hospital, he initially gave a fictitious account that was completely inconsistent with the facts of the case detailed above. He has since given detectives a more accurate statement consistent with the results of their investigation.

The child has since been transferred to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, TN for pediatric specialty care. He remains hospitalized, suffering from multiple internal injuries including severe brain damage and detached retinas.

On December 16, 2014 this case was presented to the Sullivan County Grand Jury which returned a true bill. On December 17, 2014 at approximately 3:00 PM, James R. Casteel was arrested at Cloud Apartments #152, located at 657 Nelson Street in Kingsport, on a Sullivan County Criminal Court Capias for the charges of Aggravated Child Abuse and Filing a False Police Report. He was transported to the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville where he will remain incarcerated pending a $75,000 bond.

The mother of the child, Amber N. Keys, had been incarcerated in the Sullivan County Jail at the time the injuries were inflicted upon her son. Due to the condition of her child, she was granted a temporary release so that she could be with him while he received medical care. Conditions of her release included no drug use and no contact with Mr. Casteel. Her release has since been revoked based upon violations of both of these conditions. She was with Mr. Casteel at the time of his arrest and was taken into custody for Violation of Probation and transported back to the Sullivan County Jail.

Name James R. Casteel
Age Date of Birth 10/24/1989

25 Years of Age

Race/Gender White/Male
Residency 906 Riverside Avenue

Kingsport, TN

Charge(s) 1) Aggravated Child Abuse

2) Filing a False Police Report

Name Amber N. Keys
Age Date of Birth 2/13/1990

24 Years of Age

Race/Gender White/Female
Residency 906 Riverside Avenue

Kingsport, TN

Charge(s) Violation of Probation

Thomas M. Patton, Public Information Officer

Kingsport Police Department Professional Standards Unit

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