Former Air Force sergeant and mother of two battered infants seeks custody of her daughter

William Cole, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·5 min read

Feb. 28—A former Air Force staff sergeant and mother of two battered infants, including a son who died, is trying to regain custody of her daughter, now 3, who suffered "numerous " brain bleeds, a skull fracture, rib fractures and bruising on her face, according to court documents.

On Oct. 7, Natasha Beyer was found not guilty by a military judge on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment stemming from the death of her son, Grayson Caleb Beyer, said the Air Force's 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The boy was 5 weeks old when he died in May 2016. The Honolulu Medical Examiner's office eventually ruled his death a homicide as a result of blunt force injuries to his head.

Beyer also was charged by Air Force prosecutors with assault of her daughter, Avaline Noel Beyer, when she was a newborn, causing a skull fracture, fractured ribs and a broken leg—but records show the charge was withdrawn.

Also withdrawn, according to filings, was the charge that Beyer failed to "timely " seek medical care after Avaline was injured, which resulted in permanent brain damage.

The onetime staff sergeant, who was reduced in rank to senior airman by the time of her court-martial, said on her LinkedIn page that she was a North Korea ballistic missile and Russia analyst at Pearl Harbor's Joint Intelligence Operations Center.

Tech Sgt. Caleb Humphrey, the children's father, was sentenced by a military court a year ago to three years in prison for beating his daughter in 2017 when she was 7 days old, the Air Force said.

Humphrey, who was with the 792nd Intelligence Support Squadron, said on his LinkedIn page that he was an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems administrator.

Honolulu attorney Michael Glenn, who is representing Beyer in the custody case, said Humphrey "has made a statement that he alone accidentally harmed the (daughter ) and mother had nothing to do with it."

The 15th Wing said Beyer now is out of the Air Force, but Glenn said she remains in Hawaii.

He acknowledged "there's a motion that the state has filed to terminate her parental rights, which is being fought."

Beyer also is seeking to terminate foster custody, Glenn said. Avaline Beyer reportedly has been in the care of relatives on the mainland.

Asked if Glenn was confident Beyer would regain custody, he said : "Not only do I feel confident, the law requires it. She has parental constitutional rights that can't be violated based on mere conjecture."

The court-martial results for Beyer show "the evidence just simply isn't there that she did anything wrong, " Glenn said. "In fact the evidence shows she had no part in anything, according to the guilty party, who is sitting in jail now."

Steve Lane, court-­appointed to stand in for Avaline Beyer as prochein ami, or "next friend, " filed suit last May in federal court against the U.S. government for Tripler Army Medical Center's alleged negligence in not spotting the abuse involving her infant brother, who had died 14 months earlier.

That lack of care allowed Humphrey and /or Natasha Beyer to "severely abuse " their daughter when she otherwise would have been removed from her parents following birth had authorities been made aware of the physical abuse of their son, the lawsuit states.

After Glenn acknowledged that the state's Child Welfare Services is opposing Natasha Beyer's custody of her daughter, Lane said : "I applaud the state of Hawaii for filing that motion. I couldn't be happier about it.

"No one has ever been convicted of murdering that little boy, " Lane noted. "The death of Grayson Beyer has gone unpunished. It's like he didn't exist."

The lawsuit said two Tripler doctors found that Grayson Beyer died of complications of a herpes infection—a cause of death later changed by the Honolulu Medical Examiner's office to "blunt force injuries " and "homicide."

One Tripler doctor's 2016 consultation on the boy's death noted "healing rib fractures " but said vaginal delivery was one possible explanation with "no known suspicion of foul play."

However, Lt. Col. Shelly Martin, a child abuse pediatrician at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, said in a 2017 review that there was no indication the boy had an active herpes infection and that birth was an "unlikely explanation " for rib fractures.

Martin said "non-accidental trauma should have been more thoroughly considered."

His sister, meanwhile, "clearly suffered from a blunt force trauma as evidenced by the bruising and skull fracture, " she said, adding, "There is no accidental or medical explanation for these injuries."

Lane, a court-appointed special master and child-care advocate for 20 years, said he is concerned "that permanency cases in family court having to do with custodial rights of minor children who have been the subject of abuse are held in secret. I think there needs to be more transparency to that."

Lane calls them "ghost cases."

"These are cases in which children who are the subject of abuse—when their custodial rights are being determined by a family court judge—these cases are handled in strict confidence, " Lane said. "There's no public record of even the case number ... and the public is unaware of them."

He added that, "Sadly, in the past, cases like this have resulted in returning abused children to their abusive parents."