WASHINGTON — A former marine who served in Iraq is charged with beating his 3-year-old adopted son, fracturing the boy’s skull and causing hemorrhaging in his eyes – injuries that ultimately killed the boy.
Brian O’Callaghan, 36, of Damascus, Md, was arrested Sunday on charges of first- degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
On Tuesday, a Montgomery County judge ordered O’Callaghan held without bond during a bail hearing.
According to court records, 3-year-old Hyunsu O’Callaghan, who the family calls Madoc, died of his injuries Feb. 3 at Children’s National Medical Center in D.C. An autopsy found multiple bruises on the boy’s body. His skull was fractured with bleeding in the front and back of the brain. Fluid from the brain had also seeped into the boy’s sinus cavity and spine.
The autopsy determined the toddler’s death was “homicide by multiple blunt impact injuries,” court records say.
Investigators found out about the boy’s injuries on Feb. 2 when they were called to Children’s.
O’Callaghan told Montgomery County detectives that his son slipped in the shower a few days earlier. The boy had played and eaten lunch with his adoptive father and brother the next day. Later O’Callaghan says he found the boy unresponsive after he had taken a several- hour nap. He found a pinkish stain on the sheets and mucus coming from the boy’s nose.
After changing the sheets and cleaning off the still unresponsive boy, O’Callaghan took Hyunsu to the hospital the evening of Feb. 1. He was transferred to Children’s National Medical Center where staff were concerned that the boy could be “brain dead” and conducted neurological tests, court records say.
Hospital staff told police that the brain trauma and hemorrhaging in the eyes indicated the boy had been beaten, according to court documents.
The boy’s adoptive mother was out of town and O’Callaghan had sole custody of Hyunsu at the time, court documents say.
The couple had adopted the boy from Korea and he joined the family last fall and bonded with his new mother, court records say.
However, O’Callaghan told investigators that he had not bonded with his adopted son. He became the boy’s primary caretaker in January when his wife returned to work.
O’Callaghan was a decorated Marine veteran who served in Iraq. More recently, he worked as a division chief for the National Security Agency.
“This was a terrible, terrible tragedy and not a crime,” says Steven McCool, O’Callaghan’s defense attorney. “Ultimately, when all the evidence is presented in this case, we’re all going to know the truth.”
In court, prosecutors described Hyunsu’s injuries as being “from head to toe.” State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Hyunsu’s injuries were not caused by a typical child’s fall.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call police at 240-773- 5070.
WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck, Amanda Iacone and Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report. Mollenbeck reported from Rockville, Md.