Indiana woman admits she burned infant with lighter, held baby’s face against treadmill, police say

MUNCIE, Ind. — An Indiana woman admitted burning her friend’s infant daughter with a lighter and holding the child’s face against a treadmill while it was on, according to law enforcement authorities.

Amber Nicole Vannatter, 20, of Fort Wayne, is facing three counts of battery and three counts of neglect of a dependent after admitting to the shocking abuse, according to court documents obtained by WXIN.

An investigation was launched Friday when officers responded to a report of possible child abuse at a hospital in Muncie, where the girl’s mother said Vannatter had been watching her daughter at the woman’s home while she was at work, police said.

The infant — who is almost one year old — was dropped off late Friday at her mother’s workplace with friction burns to her torso and face, as well as burns caused by a cigarette lighter, the Muncie Star Press reports.

Vannatter later admitted abusing the child “because she was depressed and the baby was crying,” the newspaper reports, citing Muncie Police Det. Kris Swanson.

Vannatter, who was arrested early Saturday, initially gave conflicting accounts as to how the infant was injured. However, she finally admitted during an interview with police to holding the girl’s face against a treadmill as it was running and burning her on the neck and arms with a lighter when she started crying, court documents revealed.

Vannatter confessed to burning the girl during two separate incidents but denied hitting her, WXIN reports.

The infant, who also reportedly had a broken wrist, was treated in an emergency room before being released, Swanson told the Muncie Star Press. She will likely have scarring from her injuries, WXIN reports.

According to the New York Post, Vannatter remained in custody Tuesday at a Delaware County Jail in lieu of $60,000 bond, online records show.


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