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Tullytown Couple Admit Violent Abuse of Twin Infant Daughters

May 23, 2017


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Chelsey D. Jackman, 215.348.6016, cdjackman@buckscounty.org 
Monica W. Furber, 215.348.6297, mwfurber@buckscounty.org

Melissa Shales Michael Shales
      Melissa Shales                 Michael Shales

 A Tullytown couple pleaded guilty Monday to felony assault and child endangerment charges in the repeated violent abuse of their twin infant daughters.

The girls, 2 months old and malnourished when police found them with broken legs and other injuries, are now 16 months old, but remain impaired by the abuse. Neither is able to walk yet, and one still uses a feeding tube, Deputy District Attorney Chelsey D. Jackman said in court.

Michael Shales, 31, and his wife Melissa Shales, 26, pleaded guilty in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Judge Raymond F. McHugh accepted the pleas, revoked the defendants’ bail and deferred sentencing for 30 to 60 days.

Aggravated assault is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Endangering the welfare of children is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Melissa Shales summoned police to the couple’s apartment in the 500 block of Main Street late on March 21, 2016, saying one of the twins was having trouble breathing.

The child had a throat injury inflicted earlier in the day when her father used pliers to retrieve a piece of gauze lodged there. Police found the baby pale and gurgling, her breathing shallow. The apartment was in a state of squalor, officers said, a junkscape of clothes, toys, tools, soiled diapers and dirty dishes covering the floor, along with drug paraphernalia and a round of rifle ammunition within reach of the babies and their 2-year-old brother.

Michael Shales had begun the day by purchasing $120 worth of heroin in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. When he returned, Melissa Shales became so enraged that she threw the baby she had been bottle-feeding into the aluminum rails of a nearby daybed and stormed out.

Michael Shales then injected the heroin he had bought before trying to wipe the inside of the injured baby’s mouth with a piece of gauze. When the gauze became lodged in her throat, he tried to retrieve it with his fingers before using a pair of pliers, puncturing the back of her throat and esophagus in the process. Police were not summoned to help the infant until after 10 o’clock that night.

The baby’s injuries required her to be intubated to breathe and for a feeding tube to be inserted for nourishment. The child also was found to have a fractured femur, rib and tibia, neck injuries consistent with shaken-baby syndrome, and cuts and bruises to her vagina. The couple admitted having left her in soiled diapers for hours at a time.

About one week before police intervened, Melissa Shales had grabbed the same baby’s leg while bathing her and heard a pop. Over several days, both parents tried repeatedly to pop and twist the leg back into place, possibly worsening the injury, Jackman said.  Neither parent called or visited a doctor, and by the time police were summoned, the child’s leg had swollen to the size of a 1-year-old’s leg.

Melissa Shales also admitted to having thrown the same baby forcefully into her swing after becoming angry with her husband on March 20, 2016. The baby landed hard on her left side, and appeared to be favoring that side afterward. Michael Shales witnessed the assault but, again, neither parent sought medical attention.

The baby’s twin sister also was found to have two fractures to her leg, and was hospitalized on March 22, 2016. Experts at St. Christopher’s Hospital attributed the breaks to non-accidental trauma, likely caused by pulling, shaking or twisting the child.

Melissa Shales admitted to police that she had picked up the infant by her onesie and placed her down hard in the past.

Both children were malnourished, having gained only two pounds each in their first two months of life, Jackman said.

In a statement to police, Jackman said, Melissa Shales “admitted that she does things like this to the babies `to get back at Michael, to show him how mad he makes her.’”

The twin with the throat injuries was so severely hurt that she was hospitalized for two months, still requires a feeding tube and cannot yet walk, Jackman said. Her sister cannot walk either and requires physical therapy, the prosecutor said.

The case was investigated by Tullytown Police Sgt. Phillip D. Kulan and Bucks County Detective Jack Slattery, and prosecuted by Jackman and Deputy District Attorney Monica W. Furber.

Approved for release by Matthew D. Weintraub, District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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