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PORTAGE -- Dawn R. Hopkins lost custody of her first two children because of

allegations that she abused and neglected them.

That didn't stop her from giving birth to a third child this summer. But that

child suffered a worse fate than his siblings. Police said the 3-month-old boy,

named Noah, was battered to death by Hopkins

Hopkins, 25, of 6614 Spinnaker, was arrested Saturday on a battery charge. The

felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and prosecutors expect

additional charges to be filed when the investigation is finished.

Hopkins called 911 Friday night to report that Noah wasn't breathing. The

infant was airlifted to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago for treatment

of skull fractures and swelling of the brain. He was declared brain dead on

Sunday, but was kept on life support until his organs could be harvested.

Hopkins' husband, Perry, who was out of the state on military training, said he

was "very devastated" by his son's death.

"I'm looking for answers," he said.

"This is the most difficult time of my life and I don't think I'll ever know

what truly happened."

He added that he's "very pleased with the support I'm getting from all my

friends ... With the Lord's help, hopefully I can move on with my life."

Several months ago, the Hopkinses' other two children were permanently taken

away from them after Dawn Hopkins was accused of intentionally dropping them on

the floor. One of the children, Brian, is now 5. The other, Katelyn, who is now

20 months old, suffered a skull fracture and broken shoulder.

Dawn Hopkins was charged in 1998 with battery and child neglect, then bonded

out of jail. While awaiting trial, she gave birth to Noah and, as police now

allege, killed him.

"This is a very tragic incident," Portage Police Capt. Dennis Wilkins said.

"Especially with the past history of abuse, that another child is allowed to be

brought into this relationship, only to end up in this manner, this is

unforgivable."

Jon Rutkowski, director of the Porter County Office of Family and Children,

said he couldn't comment regarding why a woman whose two children were

permanently taken away was allowed to keep her third child when he was born.

"Since all child welfare matters are confidential by law, my only comment can

be no comment," Rutkowski said.

Portage police said Noah's father is an Army reservist who was training in

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Wisconsin when the incident occurred. Police said he was not involved in the

abuse. Dawn Hopkins told police in her statement that she didn't want children,

but that her husband did.

In her statement to police, Dawn Hopkins admitted abusing the baby, police said.

"She gave a statement to detective (Cliff) Burch that indicated she shook the

baby really hard," Wilkins said. "She wasn't sure how hard, but said it was too

hard."

While shaking Noah, his head hit the floor about three or four times, Wilkins

said.

After Hopkins called 911 Friday night, Portage patrolman John Ryan, the first

officer at Hopkins' apartment, started CPR. The baby was taken to Portage

Community Hospital before being airlifted to Chicago.

An autopsy is planned for today in Chicago to determine the cause of death.

Preliminary hospital reports show the infant suffered three skull fractures as

well as swelling and bleeding of the brain.

Hopkins' family members were in shock after word spread that the baby was dead.

"Right now, we're still trying to get over the shock of what happened," said

Dawn Hopkins' father, Robert Martin of Chesterton.

"Right now, I can't even think."

Hopkins' aunt, Betty Calvin of Valparaiso, said Dawn Hopkins' mother was trying

to watch over Noah, but apparently couldn't save him. Calvin is hoping that

other parents who feel overwhelmed will seek help instead of resorting to

violence.

"There is no excuse for abuse of any kind," Calvin said.

" ... Somebody needs to stand up for the little baby that lost his life."

According to court documents relating to the battery and neglect charges in

1998, Hopkins said there were a lot of factors in her life and relationship

that "directly related to her inability to properly care for her children." In

those documents, Hopkins said that when she couldn't console her children, she

would hold them at arm's length and drop them to the floor.

Perry Hopkins declined to talk about what he believes may have led to his son's

death.

Dawn Hopkins is expected to have an initial hearing on the new charge this

week, at which time a trial date may be set. She still faces a trial set for

Feb. 7 in connection with the prior charges of battery and child neglect.

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