#1Feb 26th, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
New charges yesterday indicate authorities believe a Braddock father sexually assaulted his 23-month-old child before abandoning her outside to die in the cold early Feb. 3.
William Page is accused of leaving the toddler in an abandoned playground in Rankin. Nyia Page was wrapped in a blanket and wearing a knit top but was undressed from the waist down in 8-degree weather. Officials found the child's body after a day of searching.
At a preliminary hearing yesterday, Allegheny County homicide Detective Robert Opferman testified that Mr. Page confessed that he became angry with Nyia because she kept taking off her diaper. Although Mr. Page initially said he backhanded her, Detective Opferman said Mr. Page later said in a tape-recorded statement that he kicked her between the legs, while wearing Timberland boots, and then put his hand "in there" to stop the bleeding.
He then took her outside, still crying, intending to put her in a sewer, the detective said. Instead, Mr. Page left her on the ground in an old playground less than a mile from the house.
Later that morning, Mr. Page's 6-year-old stepson awakened the adults in the house, saying his baby sister was missing.
Nyia's body was discovered a short distance from the blanket.
James Ecker, Mr. Page's lawyer, said his client repeatedly asked for a lawyer during the police interrogation and was not provided one.
"As far as I know they kept questioning him after that," Mr. Ecker said. "He said from the beginning he was not guilty. He suggested to the police two people he thought could have done it."
His client entered a plea of not guilty on charges of homicide, kidnapping, aggravated indecent assault, aggravated assault and making false reports to police.
Following the detective's testimony, District Judge Scott Schricker held Mr. Page for trial on all charges.
The indecent assault count is new. The simple assault charge was enhanced to an aggravated assault because of Mr. Page's confession about kicking the child.
In a separate case, Mr. Page was charged with groping a 6-year-old boy's genitals the night before Nyia disappeared. A preliminary hearing on that matter is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. before Rankin District Justice Ross C. Cioppa. Mr. Page faces four counts, including simple assault, indecent assault and corruption of a minor.