A Montgomery County judge has set bail at a $500,000 for a woman accused of suffocating a five-month-old child she was babysitting 19 years ago.
38-year-old Melissa Haskell (pictured here) of Swedesburg is charged with third degree murder in the 1992 death of Ryan Baurley at his Upper Merion home. The County Coroner’s office ruled at the time that it was a case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as Crib Death. A review of the original autopsy, conducted earlier this year, found bruises on the baby’s brain and larynx and alcohol in his blood. Police said they re-opened the case after a concerned citizen told them Haskell had admitted giving the baby whiskey and suffocating him by putting her hand over his mouth because he wouldn’t stop crying, and she admitted it again during electronic surveillance. Her lawyer said the tipster was her ex husband, 42-year-old Michael Leflar of Bridgeport, and he came forward during a bitter dispute over the custody of their son, six-year-old Michael Junior. The defense said her husband fed her the incriminating words, but the judge said a confession is still very compelling.