A former Navy diver who worked with SEAL commandos at Pearl Harbor has been charged with murdering his 14-month-old son, nearly a year and a half after the boy died from severe brain injury caused by "abusive head trauma," officials said.
Matthew McVeigh, 26, was charged by the military on Feb. 9 with one charge and two specifications of murder, one charge and two specifications of involuntary manslaughter, and one charge and one specification of assault in the death of Brayden McVeigh, the Navy said.
The Navy refused to provide documents with details of the accusation.
According to relatives and Honolulu medical examiner reports, Brayden had suffered a broken arm at five weeks, and he once had a black eye. Baby sitters had seen bruises on the little boy.
After Brayden’s arm was broken, he and his older sister, Brodi, were placed by Child Protective Services in foster care for five months, and April and Matthew McVeigh had to take parenting and anger management classes, reports and family said.
It was a tragic end to a short life for Brayden, and seemingly with no justice before charges were brought last month.
But in a disturbing new development, the Honolulu foster mother appointed to care for his sister Brodi, now 4, was investigated for possible abuse of the girl, according to a state Department of Human Services report obtained by the Star-Advertiser.
The foster mother was arrested after admitting that she hit Brodi and the girl was found to have a bloody lip, according to the Feb. 24 DHS report.
Brodi also had other injuries, including swollen fingertips, bruising of her palm, a swollen left hand, a thumb-size bruise on her cheek, a bump on her forehead and a jaw-line bruise, the report states.
The report said the Honolulu Police Department responded on Feb. 19 to the home of the DHS-licensed caretakers for Brodi.
The foster father, who also is in the Navy, was notified in San Diego and immediately flew back to Honolulu, officials said.
Brodi was placed in a "non-relative resource home" on Oahu and "appears to not be thriving due to the circumstances that led to her recent injuries," the DHS report states.
The latest allegation of abuse involving the McVeigh children comes as the maternal grandmother in Port Isabel, Texas, and paternal grandparents in Hamilton, Ill., continue to seek custody of Brodi.
Terri Polm, the maternal grandmother and a critical care nurse, has made repeated efforts to provide care for Brodi. The children’s mother, April, who lives with Polm, had her parental rights terminated, family and officials said.
Russell McVeigh, Matthew McVeigh’s father, also has a custody request.
"We’re trying to get the granddaughter," he said by phone. "We’d like to bring her back to Illinois. We live in a small town in Illinois. I live in the country and I farm."
Russell McVeigh criticized April McVeigh, who was in a rehabilitation center on the Big Island two years ago for what she previously said was methadone use that had been prescribed following a back injury.
April McVeigh, a stay-at-home mom, previously said she admitted in court that she was "neglectful" of the children, and her husband was made primary caregiver to get the children back from foster care.
She said she was on prescribed methadone for a back injury, but because of the medication, she was not properly watching her children, the court had concluded.
Matthew McVeigh would "come home from the Navy, he’d get (the children’s) meals … he bathed them at night and took care of them," said his grandmother June McVeigh. "He did what he could. He’d get up early in the morning and give them their breakfast and take them to the baby sitter."
An Article 32 hearing for Matthew McVeigh, similar to a civilian preliminary hearing, likely will be held in May, but no date has been set, the Navy’s legal services office said.
If McVeigh is convicted at court-martial of the most serious charge, he faces life in prison.
In the meantime, McVeigh is not in custody and is assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, officials said. He has been reclassified an engineman second class.
Asked why McVeigh is not in custody, the legal services office said in an e-mail, "No comment."
The office was asked whether it could provide a charge sheet detailing the accusations. "No," was its response.
Asked why it took nearly a year and a half to prefer charges, the legal services office said, "No comment."
When asked last August about the case, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had said there was no typical time for how long an investigation takes, and some cases require more time than others.
McVeigh’s military lawyer, Lt. Robert E. Long Jr., said he had no comment.
Brayden McVeigh’s mother and father were with the boy on Sept. 18, 2009, at their Ford Island home when he was found unresponsive, according to reports and family members.
The medical examiner’s report said Matthew McVeigh dropped off his daughter at day care and reportedly placed the boy in a playpen about 10 minutes before finding him unresponsive, at which point he called to his wife.
April McVeigh said her son had been sick the day before. She and daughter Brodi had slept upstairs while Brayden and his father slept downstairs.
Brayden would have become unresponsive at, or close to, the time that his abusive head injury was inflicted, the autopsy said.
The boy was rushed to the hospital, pronounced brain dead 52 hours later and died Sept. 20. Brayden died "as a result of intracranial injury due to abusive head trauma," the autopsy said. The severe brain injury could have been caused by shaking and/or impact, the report said.