NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Newton County father charged with the murder of his newborn daughter whose body was found last weekend was denied bond at his first court appearance Thursday morning. Christopher McNabb did not speak during his appearance in court, which lasted less than three minutes.
“I would hang my head too because the world now is looking at your face,” said Sherron Fontenot, who lives next door to McNabb.
Arrest warrants indicate McNabb struck the baby with an unknown object, which caused her skull to be seriously disfigured and damaged beyond repair.
“She was so tiny. Why do you have to pick something up to bludgeon a 2-week-old baby?” asked Fontenot.
The criminal warrants indicate McNabb wrapped Caliyah in a t-shirt and a blanket that came from the residence, then placed her in one of his drawstring carry bags before taking her to the woods and attempting to conceal her body with debris.
The disturbing details make his neighbors he put on a charade during the weekend searches.
“He was so sincere about wanting his baby back and then... all the time he killed her,” said Fontenot.
McNabb is being held in isolation and deputies confirm he is on suicide watch. He did not ask for an attorney even though he is charged with felony and malice murder, aggravated battery, and concealing a death.
“I can't understand it,” remarked Fontenot.
The felony charges he faces will now be considered by the Newton County grand jury, which next meets on November 3. McNabb will be held in isolation, under a suicide watch until then.
Caliyah McNabb, who was just 15 days old when police said she was killed, will have a private graveside funeral service on Friday. Tuesday afternoon, medical examiners released she died from died from blunt force trauma to the head. Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis ruled the infant's death a homicide Tuesday afternoon.
The infant’s remains were found Sunday in the woods off of Highway 36, not far from the family’s home at the Eagle Pointe Mobile Home Park. She had been reported missing by her mother the day before.
"The mother happened to be in the car with the father and they were at the intersection of Hey 36 and the Bypass," said Capt. Keith Crum, Newton County Sheriff's Office. "When he learned that the baby's body had been discovered, he jumped out and ran."
McNabb has been in the Newton County Jail since Sunday night, originally held on probation violations for burglary charges out of Bartow County.
"Law enforcement is, we deal with a lot of tragedy," said Capt. Crum. "But this is a little 15-day-old baby, helpless, totally dependent on adult care, and for whatever reason, the child died."
The Newton County Sheriff's Office said little Caliyah McNabb's murder has pulled at the most seasoned deputies heartstrings.
"I think we know and can prove in a court what happened and that's the next step," said Capt. Crum. "He had made a couple of initial statements then he indicated to investigators he did not wish to talk anymore."
McNabb was arrested around 7 p.m. Sunday after a rather bizarre encounter at the Chevron gas station on Highway 36.
"I was standing there waiting on customers. He came in and somebody said ‘That's him.’ I looked at him and said ‘That is him. That is him,’" said Julie Hannah, store clerk.
Store surveillance cameras captured McNabb wearing a cap and gray shirt.
"He was real wet and nasty like he had been running through the woods in the rain," said Hannah. "He started hollering and talking about ‘they are going to get me. They are going to get me. I've been running all day. I have been in the woods all day.’"
"He come back up here and he started talking to me and he says, ‘You know me? You recognize me?’ I said, ‘No.’ He says, ‘I was in here last night talking to you guys about my baby getting kidnapped," said Hannah. "He went on and on and on just rambling ‘I didn't do it. It wasn't me. It wasn't the baby's mama y'all going to look crazy when you figure this out.’"
Hannah called 911 as McNabb exited the store. Law enforcement arrived shortly after and arrested him.
Christopher McNabb spoke directly into FOX 5's cameras Saturday.
"I want my kid back!" he yelled repeatedly.
McNabb's capture came four hours after what we now know was the body of Caliyah McNabb was discovered in the woods. Caliyah’s mother was cleared Saturday, but when her father arrived at the home, he ran from police, prompting a search.
Tuesday, FOX 5 News obtained a copy of the 911 call Caliyah's mother made just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Courtney Bell told the 911 operator her 2-year-old woke her up and told the 2-week old was missing.
The call prompted a search for the infant using K-9s and involving several law enforcement agencies. Caliyah's body was ultimately found by a group of searchers in the nearby woods.
FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell sat down with Caliyah's grandfather Tim Bell and great-grandfather Jack Monday evening.
"Thinking of the little baby out there all alone is the worst part," Tim Bell said.
Jack Bell also teared up while talking to Mitchell about the family's fears.
"Tears come to my eyes every time I think about it. She was just so precious, so innocent and so small. She couldn't help herself," Jack Bell said.