deputy sheriff charged with felony crimes
Wanda English Burnett
Charges of Battery and Aggravated Battery, both Class B felonies,
have been filed against a Holton man after authorities got together
to decide his story didnt quite match the injuries his infant
child had sustained.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Zebulan Zeb
Hildebrand, 30, of Old Michigan Road, Holton. He turned himself
in Tuesday morning, September 20 and was processed at the Ripley
County Jail. He was then transferred to the Dearborn County Correctional
Facility due to his connections with the sheriffs office
in Ripley County.
Hildebrand was in the process of becoming a reserve deputy for
the Ripley County Sheriffs Office. According to Sheriff
Tom Grills, he had not made it through the training program, and
so was not technically a reserve officer when the incident occurred.
He said Hildebrand did give a letter of resignation although he
didnt really have to do so. Hildebrands brother is
a detective for the sheriffs office, and his wife is a jailer.
According to information from the Affidavit for Probable Cause
filed September 19, Hildebrand told some different stories about
what happened in August when his baby had to be taken to the hospital
for medical care while he was in charge of his children.
Police were notified to investigate a report of physical child
abuse by a social worker from the Cincinnati Childrens Hospital
Medical Center (CCHMC), where the baby had been transported from
Margaret Mary Community Hospital, the first stop for medical help.
The social worker told police that the physicians at the center
had concerns about what actually happened to the baby who was
admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at CCHMC with subdural
hematomas and a liver laceration.
At first Hildebrand told police he was caring for his children,
ages two, one and the infant when the other two ran past him,
brushing up against him. He said he knew he dropped the baby and
fell too, but couldnt remember any details about how he
fell or in what position he landed or how the baby fell.
He told the doctor he might have performed some chest compressions
using just two fingers. He said the baby was lying on his back
and was completely white, and did not appear to be breathing.
Then he said after just one to two minutes, the baby began to
scream and had his whole body clenched. He then called his wife,
who was on duty as a jailer at the Ripley County Jail.
The infant had suffered a subdural hematoma on both sides of the
brain, which is explained as bleeding between the skull and the
brain. An abdominal CT scan was performed with it showing a laceration
to the babys liver. The doctor told Detective Tracy Rohlfing
of the Indiana State Police that the injuries were out of
proportion to the described fall.
On the day after the child arrived at the hospital further exams
were conducted with doctors saying hemorrhages pertaining to the
eyes were too numerous to count. The doctor said those
types of injuries were inconsistent with the story Hildebrand
told about how the child was injured.
Det. Rohlfing stated in the Affidavit for Probable Cause that
Hildebrand told him the same story he had initially told others,
except added that he did shake the baby in an attempt to resuscitate
him. The detective asked Hildebrand why he had not just told this
story from the beginning.
At this point, Hildebrand changed his story again and told the
officer there was no drop and fall. He said the other children
were running around not paying attention to what they were
doing, making a mess. He said, (the victim) got in
the way as he was mad at the two older children.
He then stated he tried to catch and grab (the victim) and shook
the hell out of him. He said the baby went limp and he thought
he broke his neck from the shaking. He stated in the affidavit,
(the victim) was not breathing, he was out cold, there was
no life in him whatsoever...(the victim) couldnt do anything,
no air, no form and no color. He said when the baby didnt
open his eyes, he (Hildebrand) opened his eyelids and there was
Hildebrand acknowledged in a recorded interview that he told the
first two stories and to a certain extent the third story to protect
The defendant said he wanted to put out there that he shook
(the victim) accidentally. When questioned further by the
detective, Hildebrand said it wasnt something he was proud
of, Its one of those things that you never talk about.
Its not something that you admit to.
While Hildebrand said he was building his story around the medical
facts he was being told, the true medical tests revealed the severe
trauma injuries were not consistent with his initial explanations
according to court records.
An initial hearing has been set for Monday, September 26 at 8:30
a.m. in the Ripley County Circuit Court with Special Judge Jon
Cleary from Dearborn County presiding over the case.