Father accused of dropping ‘vaping liquid’ into 9-week-old baby’s mouth: ‘I’ve done it before’

Posted at 6:14 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 18:14:37-05

Dustin Appenzeller

RACINE, Wis. – A Wisconsin father is accused of child abuse after prosecutors say he dropped “vaping liquid” into the mouth of his 9-week-old son.

Dustin Appenzeller, 30, faces one count of physical abuse of a child, intentionally causing bodily harm.

Police were dispatched to a home on Thunderbird Dr. near Erie St. early Thursday for a report of a 9-week-old infant experiencing a medical emergency, according to a criminal complaint.  Police say the child had been given “vaping liquid” used in e-cigarettes by his father.

Investigators spoke with a witness who said she woke up to someone saying, “Oh my god! What did you do? What did you do?” The infant was found in a bedroom with her father, “foaming at the mouth” and apparently having a seizure. An ambulance took the child to the emergency room.

The complaint indicates Appenzeller told investigators he gave the child “a couple drops” of vaping liquid. When asked why Appenzeller said “I don’t know. He was crying. I was really tired.” Appenzeller seemed “calm and unconcerned” when speaking with investigators, according to the complaint.

A bottle of vaping liquid was found in Appenzeller’s pocket, and he indicated this was the vaping liquid he gave the child. It was sent to the hospital for use by doctors in contacting Poison Control Center officials.

The infant was later transferred to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Another unidentified person in the home told investigators the baby was hungry, so she asked Appenzeller to get him a bottle while she used the restroom. When she went into the bedroom, she saw Appenzeller using the dropper top of the vaping liquid bottle to drop liquid into the infant’s mouth. She told police she said “Oh my god! What did you do?” to which Appenzeller replied, “I’ve done it before. It’s fine.”

She said the baby was having difficulty breathing and was foaming at the mouth. Appenzeller then said “I’m sorry. I’m tired,” according to the complaint. The child’s mother then called 911.

Appenzeller made his initial appearance in court Feb. 1. Cash bond was set at $5,000, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 8.