07/19/13 — Airman to face murder charges for son's death

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Airman to face murder charges for son's death

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 19, 2013 1:46 PM

When asked about his son, he allegedly said the toddler was gone and that statement, along with the condition of the airman's home, led the other airman to take action.

OSI and Security Forces personnel were contacted and Theurer was taken into custody, where he allegedly confessed to dumping the body outside of town after "finding young Matthew dead inside his base housing unit."

Less than 24 hours later, the news had spread across Seymour Johnson.

One woman said she was shocked that "a quiet young man who kept to himself" was at the center of such a tragic turn of events.

But she acknowledged that when, in her words, Theurer's wife, Amy Jo, left him and returned to their Indiana hometown, he became even more withdrawn.

The child's mother has not yet spoken to the media about the case.

During the Article 32 hearing, Col. Brian Thompson, the Air Force's chief senior trial counsel, asked that the premeditated murder charge be included in the report, but defense attorney Capt. Johnathan Legg objected, arguing that the evidence did not warrant such a charge.

Legg did not call any witnesses or present any testimony on Theurer's behalf.

But several witnesses did take the stand.

Dr. Deborah Radisch, the state's chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy on the toddler, talked about the condition of the remains.

"In my opinion, the cause of death was severe malnutrition," she said. "The first obvious observation was just to look at the body and see the condition of the body."

The toddler weighed 13 pounds, 8 ounces and appeared dehydrated, she added, which put Matthew "well below the fifth percentile" on the growth chart -- an average male child of the same age should weigh about 22 pounds.

"This did not happen overnight," Dr. Radisch said. "The signs were there that something wasn't going right and medical attention should be sought."

Theurer's estranged wife also testified.

She said the couple's relationship had started off "great" after they were married in March 2010, but had deteriorated.

Then, when she moved back to Indiana in late April 2012 -- staying first with her mother, then her father and stepmother before moving in with her boyfriend -- she contacted Theurer in June 2012 about taking custody of their son.

"I was moving from place to place and I couldn't take care of him like I needed to, so I asked Matt to take care of him until I was back up on my feet," she said.

OSI officials spoke, also.

The house, they said, smelled strongly of urine and was "messy."

The toddler's crib appeared to be stained with bodily fluids, possibly urine, from the bed to the floor.