Skylar Papple

Mom wants boyfriend to ‘co-parent’ her little girl. He ends up beating the tot, leaving her in bathtub water to die: Police

A Michigan man will remain in jail without bond after waiving his rights to a preliminary hearing in a Midland County courtroom on Tuesday. 

According to Midland Daily News, 23-year-old Damian Garrett, who appeared before Judge Michael Carpenter of the 75th District Court on Tuesday morning, is accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 1-year-old daughter, Skylar Papple. 

On September 17, Garrett was babysitting Skylar when she drowned in a bathtub. Skylar’s mother, Emma Buchholz, was not at home at the time, according to police. 

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Garrett initially told investigators that Skylar fell and bumped her head on the bathtub faucet. The incident happened inside an apartment Garrett shared with Buchholz at the Northwind Forest Apartments, off of Hedgewood Drive in Midland. 

The suspect said after Skylar hit her head, she was submerged underwater for several minutes before he found her, according to court documents.

First responders arrived at the apartment complex to find Garrett outside with the little girl after he asked the apartment maintenance manager, Rick Tickel, for help. First responders rushed the unconscious toddler to MidMichigan Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. 

Damian Garrett [Photo Handout]
According to the arrest affidavit, hospital staff noticed fresh bruising and wounds on Skylar that that appeared to be concerning,” MLive reports. 

Police spoke to Tickel, who reportedly said that he, too, noticed fresh injuries on the child. 

An autopsy performed on the toddler confirmed she died from drowning. The report indicated that Skylar also had severe head injuries that were “possible contributing factors, but not in themselves sufficient to cause her death.” 

On September 18, investigators questioned Garrett again. During the second round of questioning, the suspect allegedly admitted that he grew angry when Skylar refused to get her hair wet while he was trying to give her a bath.

“Garrett said that he became frustrated and hit or pushed Skylar in the back, harder than he ever had before, causing her to fall forward and hit her head on the bath faucet.” 

Garrett allegedly admitted that he hit the toddler at least four times. During the final hit, Skylar struck her head on the faucet, then fell unconscious in the bathwater.

“He left Skylar facedown in the water and went out to the living room where he was punching the floor,” the affidavit continued. “After 5 to 6 minutes, Garrett returned to the bathroom where a motionless Skylar remained beneath 6 to 8 inches of water.” 

Garrett’s lawyer, Dan Duke, said that although his client waived his right to a preliminary hearing, it doesn’t mean that he admitted guilt. Duke agreed to no bond for his client while they await the next hearing. 

CrimeOnline spoke with the child’s father, Robert Papple, who said he had been trying to get custody of Skylar. Papple said Buchholz would block any attempts by moving to different locations.

“Emma would not let me know where Skylar was living or even staying at. She packed Skylar up in the middle of the night and told my girlfriend she was moving back up north and told her not to tell me. Anytime I tried to do the next step or do anything to see my daughter, she would pack up and move and block me and not contact me. She would tell me I could see her then tell me I was never seeing her again.”

Papple added that he thought Buccholz was aware of Garrett abusing Skylar prior to the incident. Buchholz allegedly indicated that the toddler would “learn over time.”

“There are text messages of Emma messaging Damian asking him to stop spanking her so hard, and that Skylar will learn over time, and trying to get Damian to be her father figure. She [Buchholz] knew he [Garrett} was abusing Skylar! And did not protect her like she was supposed to. Skylar was my life, my world! I can’t imagine anyone else going through this.”

Buchholz allegedly said she wanted Garrett to “co-parent Skylar.” She has not been charged in connection with her daughter’s death.

Efforts to reach Buchholz have so far been unsuccessful. 

Papple added that Skylar was his “mini-me,” and a happy “ray of sunshine” who was full of life.

The story is developing. Check back for further updates. 

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[Feature Photo: Skylar Papple/GoFundMe]