Baby's killer held in jail "where he belongs," deputies say

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A Largo man had his first court appearance Tuesday after police said he beat a 7-week-old baby to death earlier this month.

A judge ordered Artem Eydelman, 29, held without bond after he was arrested on a first-degree murder charge a day earlier.

"This is definitely one of the most severe cases of child abuse that we've seen," said Sgt. Spencer Gross with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "This is a tragic situation. It's hard to believe a person could do this to an innocent, defenseless child. We can only imagine the grief that the family is dealing with with this but, in the meantime, Artem is sitting in the Pinellas County jail where he belongs."

According to detectives, deputies were called Nov. 17 to a house on 117th Street North in Largo for a report of an unresponsive child. When deputies arrived, paramedics were working to revive 7-week-old Gwendolyn Eydelman.

She was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital with life-threatening injuries at the time. 

Investigators said Eydelman -- who is not the baby's biological father but met Mariah Samon when she was three months pregnant and signed the child's birth certificate -- was watching Gwen while Samon was at work. Eydelman told investigators he found the child unresponsive after waking up from a nap.

Doctors removed Gwendolyn from life support last week, she died shortly after.

Sgt. Spencer Gross said Eydelman's story changed several times before the truth finally came out.

"He admitted to striking the child with a closed fist in the head prior to calling 911," Gross said. "He claimed that he was frustrated while changing the child's diaper. He also admitted to shaking the child and squeezing the child around the mid-section, which is consistent with the injuries that the doctors had reported."

Following her daughter's death, Samon has written a series of posts on Facebook. In the first one on Nov. 21, Samon wrote, "My perfect little angel. The happiest time of my life was getting to be your mommy."

After Eydelman's arrest, Samon applauded the efforts of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

A day later, however, she posted about how heart-broken she is, writing, "I've lost everything this last week, even myself."