Child dies after adoptive parents give him back to biological mother

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Credit: WHO-TV

Credit: WHO-TV

Credit: WHO-TV

The adoptive parents of Gabriel McFarland have learned the 4-month-old infant died from head trauma 40 days after he was returned to his biological mother.

Police say Gabriel suffered internal head trauma while in the care of his biological father, 17-year-old high school student Drew James Weehler-Smith, according to WHO-TV.

Weehler-Smith has been charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. He is facing life in prison on the first-degree murder charge and a maximum of 50 years, if convicted, for child endangerment.

HLN reached out to his attorney, but calls were not immediately returned.

Drew James Weehler-Smith

Drew James Weehler-Smith (WHO-TV)

According to WHO-TV, Weehler-Smith was alone with Gabriel while the infant’s mother left the house to run errands.

Rachel and Heidi McFarland had been raising Gabriel since he was born. The couple was asked to return him at the request of Markeya Atkins, the boy’s 16-year-old biological mother, who never finalized adoption paperwork.

LISTEN: Mother’s 911 call released

Although the medical examiner determined that Gabriel’s death was caused by abusive head trauma, Sgt. Jason Halifax, a public information officer for the Des Moines Police Department, said investigators are unable to release details of how the head trauma was inflicted.

On April 22, Atkins left Gabriel at her Des Moines, Iowa, apartment so that she could go to the library and make photocopies.

According to a Police Department report, Atkins’ friend, Siobhan Williams, stopped by the apartment to pick up a phone charger. At the time, Williams saw Weehler-Smith on the porch outside, holding the baby in his arms.

WATCH: Baby Gabriel speaks out | MORE:  Three Mothers Mourn Baby’s Death

“She could not see the baby’s face but the baby was not crying,” the report said.

After leaving, Atkins asked Williams to return to the apartment and stay there with Weehler-Smith and the couple’s son. On her way back, Williams witnessed Weehler-Smith driving away.

The friend then told Atkins that Gabriel may have been left alone. When Atkins raced back to the apartment and met up with Williams, the two women found Gabriel in the apartment, alone and unresponsive.

The boy was in a glider chair with a bottle beside him.

According to a police report, the friend saw “white stuff” all around the outside of the boy’s mouth and said he did not appear to be breathing.

On a 911 call, Williams can be heard desperately trying to use CPR to save the boy.

Attempts were unsuccessful, and Gabriel was later pronounced dead at Iowa Methodist Hospital.

Halifax said Atkins consented to a search of the apartment. No blood was found at the scene.

Heidi McFarland said she learned about Gabriel’s death on the news.

“I happened to watch the news that day and found out,” she said about the boy she and her partner, Rachel, had named and raised since birth.

“I actually never got to say goodbye,” she said.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


    • Chucky

      No, correction…. read the story again… “while in the care of his biological father, 17-year-old high school student Drew James Weehler-Smith”.

    • 2Cents

      Well Mike, good for you for stepping up to raise your child that you helped bring into this world. Responsibility is not age driven. However, I really do hope that you teach yor child better manners than you’ve shown here. Patti is simply stating a statistical fact; most babies are harmed by their very young and often inexperienced parents. You may be the exception to that statistic, and good for you. And maybe your child will grow up to realize that it is poor manners to call someone a POS in a public forum for simply stating their opinion.

      One can only hope…….

    • Lynn N Ronnie DeViney Jr.

      Depends on the teenager!(although most aren’t ready) My mom had me 1 week after her 17th birthday.She then got her GED,business college,and then years later,left RJReynolds because of disability.When she left,she was a systems analysts(testing the programs the computer programmers made for their “robotics” at Reynolds.–just 1 of the things she did). She ALWAYS took care of me,and she NEVER abused me.

    • Negamonte Firestone

      Wow, I’m 24 and that is such a disgusting comment. Not every teen parent kills their kids or makes bad decisions that wind up hurting/killing their kids! Like what, “Adults” never kill babies? People over 19 never hurt their kids? What about that woman who they just found like 7 dead babies that she’d given birth to and killed and hid in plastic totes? This is what happens when MONSTERS are left alone with babies. I can’t imagine what the adoptive parents and the biological family are going through.. The mom didn’t leave her kid with that beast with the intention of coming back to a dead baby, she trusted the wrong person.. nobody does that? No “Adult” has ever done that? Tell that to all the people that leave their kids alone with catholic priests.

  • A

    This is the most screwed up comment I have ever seen. The baby is dead you heartless p.o.s. If they had kept him, he would be alive. The hell is your problem?

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.