Florida Father Arrested for Fatally Shoving Baby Wipes Down 2-Month-Old Daughter's Throat to Stop Her from Crying, Then Blaming Death on Older Daughter

Joseph Napier
Joseph Napier Twitter

The Indian River County Sheriff's Office said a father was arrested Friday in the death of his 2-month-old daughter two years ago.

Sheriff Eric Flowers announced the arrest of Joseph Napier in the death of his infant daughter, Iris Noelle, on May 28, 2021.

Napier Told Cops He Left Child Unattended on Couch with 18-Month-Old Daughter

When dispatchers received a 911 call regarding the unresponsive child, dispatchers began giving CPR instructions to the caller while also notifying deputies and fire rescue to respond.

When deputies arrived at the home, located in the 1500 block of Sixth Avenue, they made contact with the caller, later identified as the infant's father, Joseph Napier, as well as his 2-month-old daughter, who was unresponsive and "turning blue," according to the deputy.

The deputy took over CPR measures and rushed the infant to the ambulance. Despite the life-saving efforts, the infant did not survive.

During the preliminary investigation, Napier told deputies the infant choked, and he could only see a small white object in the back of her mouth. Investigators said the father then gave a timeline of events and claimed he left the child unattended, on a couch, with his 18-month-old daughter for about 10 minutes.

Investigators Found Wipes were Intentionally Placed in Child's Mouth

"We know that he was in the other room neglecting these children way longer than that," Flowers said. When he returned to the room, he discovered the child was choking and in distress, but the sheriff's office said he still waited about five minutes before calling 911.

Detectives said they later determined that Napier actually spent about 30 minutes on his cellphone while in another room.

During an examination of the 2-month-old, a baby wipe was removed from deep within the infant's throat. Detectives said this is what caused the airway obstruction.

The sheriff's office determined that the only person present at the time of the incident who could have placed the wipe that deep in the child's throat was Napier.

"Our forensic team has determined that his claims that the 18-month-old child placed a wipe down the throat of this 2-month-old infant, we've proven that that's not possible," Flowers said. "He put that wipe in that child's mouth. He pushed it down far enough that this child choked. It took doctors going deep into this child's throat with forceps [to get it out]."

Napier was Fed Up with the Infant Crying Due to Colic

Flowers said he believed Napier was fed up with the child crying because she had colic. Iris' grandfather, Joe Miller, who was at the news conference with deputies and left Iris with Napier to go to work minutes before she died, said he believed the same.

"As I was getting dressed, Joe [Napier] was screaming at the top of his lungs at the baby, 'Why can't you shut the eff up?!'" Miller said. "That was the last thing I heard."

After a two-year investigation, Napier was arrested by detectives on a charge of manslaughter. He is currently being held at the Indian River County jail on a $750,000 bond.