Sarah Gumm was trying to change Rylan Koopmeiner’s diaper on a wooden table in her Waukegan home when the 3-month-old baby became fussy and the 33-year-old babysitter became frustrated, prosecutors contend.
“She put the baby down on the table such that she struck her head on the table,” Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz said Thursday. Gumm appeared in court on first-degree murder charges in the infant’s death.
Fisz said an autopsy revealed a severe fracture to the baby’s skull which caused her July 27 death.
“It was the medical examiner’s opinion that an extreme amount of force had to have been used to cause that fracture,” he said.
Rylan’s parents, Nathan and Reggan Koopmeiners, of Kenosha, Wis., dropped the baby off at Gumm’s home in the 1100 block of O'Farrell Lane in Waukegan at about 6:45 a.m., as they had every weekday since they hired Gumm six weeks prior, Fisz said. Rylan was the only child in the home that day, and Gumm did not care for any other children, he said.
At about 4:30 p.m., Gumm called police and said that the baby was not breathing. She was rushed to Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, where she was pronounced dead a short time later, Fisz said.
According to authorities, Gumm told police later that evening that Rylan had been sleeping when Gumm heard a “gurgling noise” and noticed that the baby seemed to be in distress, prompting Gumm to call for help.
Authorities said Gumm told them she was home all day, but they said a neighbor reported seeing Gumm leave the home alone in a taxi sometime that afternoon. And Fisz said authorities learned Gumm used her credit card twice at a local drugstore, once at 9:30 a.m. and once at 1:50 p.m.
Police interviewed Gumm again on Aug. 2 and she allegedly admitted to going to the drugstore in the morning and leaving the baby behind at home, Fisz said. The prosecutor said Gumm also then admitted to causing the baby’s injuries.
“She also told police that later in the afternoon the baby was getting very fussy and squirming around while she was trying to change her on a wooden table,” Fisz said. “She was holding the child up above the table. She got frustrated.”
During Thursday’s hearing, Gumm asked for more time to hire an attorney. Judge Raymond Collins gave her until Aug. 16.
She remains in the Lake County Jail in lieu of $3 million bond.
A man believed to be Gumm’s husband, Jim, declined comment Tuesday after returning a call made to the home.
The baby’s parents’ pastor, the Rev. Don Hackbarth of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., called them “are very, very distraught, very sad.”
Tribune reporter Lisa Black contributed.