Anne Arundel County police yesterday charged a man with killing his 1-year-old son by submerging him headfirst in a tub full of scalding water in the Jessup motel room where the family was living.
Mark Charles Titus, 30, who has been staying with his wife and three children at the Parkway Motel at Route 175 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, was ordered held on $50,000 bail after a hearing in District Court.
Police said they became suspicious of Mr. Titus after he and his wife, Rosemary Renee Titus, 24, told inconsistent stories about the death of their son, Joseph Erving Titus.
Police spokesman V. Richard Molloy said investigators questioned the parents at the Western District station for most of yesterday before filing first-degree murder charges against Mr. Titus.
Each parent blamed the other, according to police, and implied that a 2-year-old son knew how to turn on the hot water and that Joseph somehow fell into the tub when Mr. Titus left the room to relieve his wife, who worked the night shift at the motel's front desk.
But paramedics said they arrived to find that rigor mortis had already set in, leading police to believe that Joseph had been dead at least four hours, Officer Molloy said.
According to police accounts, Mr. Titus, a maintenance engineer at the motel, was awakened about 4 a.m. Wednesday by the cries of his 1-year-old son.
Police allege that Mr. Titus changed the boy's diapers, then dunked him headfirst into a tub filled with scalding water and wentback to sleep.
When his wife called to wake him about 7 a.m., he allegedly put Joseph's body on the floor and went to the front desk.
Mrs. Titus returned to the room about 9 a.m. and found the baby's blistered body in the doorway to the bathroom, Officer Molloy said. The other children, a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old boy, were also in the room.
Officer Molloy said that Joseph had been severely burned from the legs up and that the tub was full of steaming water when paramedics arrived.
A preliminary autopsy showed that the boy had died from being intentionally immersed in the hot water, according to the charging documents.
During yesterday's bond hearing, Mr. Titus faced District Court Judge Donald Lowman via closed-circuit television from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center. He said he and his family had lived at the motel about a month and had been in Maryland about a year. Prior to that, they lived in Washington and in Laurel.
Judge Lowman said he would consider lowering the bail if he could find someone "willing to guarantee" Mr. Titus' "appearance in court with their money."
Officer Molloy said the other two boys were placed in the custody of a grandparent. Relatives who were at the police station Wednesday refused to comment.
None of the relatives showed up at the bail hearing yesterday.