A man living in Arcadia, California was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly murdering his ex-girlfriend’s toddler in Louisville, Kentucky 43 years ago.
Lawrence “Larry” Roger Beck, 65, is believed to have shaken 18-month-old Michael Ray Sanders in such a violent manner than he became unconscious. He took his then-girlfriend’s unconscious baby to the doctor’s office but he died a short time after, according to KCAL-9, the local CBS News affiliate in Los Angeles.
Sanders died in 1971 and autopsy results at the time of his death revealed the toddler had suffered a traumatic injury.
“Thankfully, the evidence from 1971 has stayed intact so we were able to go back and look at the evidence and determine what happened to the child. We have enough evidence to go forward,” said Jefferson County Assistant Commonwealth attorney Diane Arnold, notes CBS.Beck is expected to be extradited back to Kentucky where he will likely undergo trial.
Advancements in the study of shaken-baby syndrome (SBS) and pediatric medicine from the time the death occurred until now have reportedly been credited with helping solve the crime, notes CBS.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that, in addition to being a crime, SBS is a public health issue. The CDC describes it as “a preventable, severe form of physical child abuse resulting from violently shaking an infant by the shoulders, arms, or legs. SBS may result from both shaking alone or from shaking with impact.”
Investigators who are part of a cold-case unit in Kentucky had reportedly been on the case for several months and were able to track Beck down after they visited two addresses that were listed under his name in Arcadia, KCAL-9 reports.
Detectives with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau carried out Beck’s arrest.
Neighbors described Beck and his wife as a “quiet couple.” A neighbor who spoke to CBS said the arrest came as a “big surprise. I’d seldom see the man coming out of the house. I’d see[n] the woman several times.”
A statistic posted on the website of The Child Abuse Prevention Center approximates that up to 10,000 cases of shaken-baby syndrome occur in the United Sates annually.