GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — A 60-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder and malicious wounding after his wife, 24, was found severely injured and her infant child dead on Tuesday.
Court documents indicate the incident happened at 4233 Aberdeen Creek Road in the early morning hours of Tuesday. Authorities entered the home that afternoon to find the woman severely injured and her infant girl dead.
A probable cause statement obtained by 10 On Your Side on Thursday show Dennis Chambers admitted to authorities that he used a hammer to strike his wife, 24-year-old Corena Chambers, in the head “between two and three times,” before using a cotton “burping cloth” to smother her 5-month-old daughter, “E.C.”
Based on that information, the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dennis Chambers and charged him with second-degree murder and malicious wounding.
The documents say information gathered from family and neighbors point to Corena Chambers having had extramarital affairs, and Dennis Chambers had recently discovered that E.C. was not his child.
“I know that she treated him wrong,” said Wayne Jenkins, one of the neighbors interviewed by investigators.
Dennis Chambers was transferred from the jail in Gloucester to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw. The sheriff says there’s a reason for that: He’s charged with killing a child.
“He could be subject to attack from another inmate and our regional jail is much better suited to isolate him from other inmates,” said Sheriff Darrell Warren.
Warren says the scene was a shock to seasoned investigators, let alone anyone else.
“Any time you have a young defenseless child that’s involved in some type of horrific crime like this it’s very difficult for everyone involved,” Warren said.
Dennis Chambers lived at the one-level home with Corena Chambers, the baby E.C., and three of Corena’s relatives.
“How can somebody get beat with a hammer and you not hear nobody scream or nothing?” asked Jenkins.
Investigators say Corena Chambers was so badly beaten that she couldn’t communicate with them at the scene Tuesday afternoon, and based on information from the hospital in Norfolk where she was transported, she may not be able to speak for a long time, if ever.
Chambers was on the run until he was tracked down Wednesday night in New Kent County. His Volkswagen Beetle was parked at the Wahrani Nature Trail, authorities say, and a New Kent deputy placed him into custody without incident after several hours of searching.
Court documents say family members and neighbors told investigators that Corena Chambers had been having several extramarital relationships with various men, and Dennis Chambers was recently told the infant was not his biological child. That caused Chambers to become upset, and led to an uptick in recent verbal arguments.
A relative of Corena Chambers says she’s on a ventilator fighting to stay alive, in critical condition.
The case has left a quiet neighborhood in sadness and disbelief.
Jenkins said he knows Dennis Chambers well enough. After about 12 years, he knows his habits.
“When you know he’s out there, all you got to do is listen, and you’ll hear him coughing. He sneaks behind the garage and the shed to smoke a cigarette,” Jenkins said Wednesday morning. “I know the guy and I just don’t believe he’s a violent person.”
But Jenkins says he saw some odd behavior from Chambers on Tuesday morning, just hours before the infant was found dead in their home, and his wife badly injured.
“I noticed he kept running from the front door to the end of the house. So I said (to myself) something was wrong. And it about rang in my mind. I said to myself, Oh God, I hope that baby is not dead… Later I find out the baby is dead.”
By then, Dennis Chambers was gone, so Jenkins went across the road and asked a relative of Chambers what was going on.
“[The relative] hesitated, and then he said ‘You would find out when Dennis is caught.’ He said ‘Dennis is gone and he’s the prime suspect.'”
Jenkins says he believes the couple got married about four years ago. He says they had disagreements but he never saw anything violent.
“I’m sorry for the baby, but I just can’t see that Dennis done anything,” he said. “It would have to be proven to me, I’d have to see. But I guess time will tell.”
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