Wake Forest infant suffered fractured skull while in dad’s care, warrants say

Daniel Vena (CCBI)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The family of a 30-year-old Wake Forest man accused of fracturing his infant daughter’s skull say the he was trying to save his daughter from choking – not injure her.

Daniel Vena with his daughter.

On Sept. 13, the then 2-month-old child was brought to WakeMed after she would not stop vomiting, warrants say.

Doctors performed a CT scan that revealed the child had a fractured skull and had bleeding on the brain. Police were called who then spoke to the child’s father, Daniel Vena.

The infant was in the care of Vena when he said she began to choke while being fed with a bottle. Vena told police he flipped the child over and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver on his daughter, warrants say.

Vena said his daughter, named Elliana, went limp and then stiffened up, warrants say.

The child’s mother later returned home from work and found the girl was still vomiting.

After taking the child to her pediatrician, the 2-month-old was taken to WakeMed.

Warrants say Vena mentioned the child falling off the couch the previous week but doctors said the infant’s injuries were not from a week ago.

“(The) father then looked down and his hands started to shake,” the warrant states.

Doctors told police the child’s injuries were consistent the shaken baby syndrome.

An arrest warrant shows that the infant suffered “right subdural hemorrhaging, multi-layered retinal hemorrhaging, and sacral bruising.”


On Aug. 1, police were called to Vena’s home to perform a welfare check on the child and her mother. Notes from that call show Vena said was depressed and didn’t want the child, warrants say.

Vena was arrested Nov. 5 and charged with one count of intentional child abuse causing serious physical injury. He is being held in the Wake County Detention Center under a $75,000 secured bond.

Jessica Renik, Vena’s fiancé and Elliana’s mother, and other family members were in court Monday to support for the 30-year-old.

Vena’s father said he consider’s his son a hero.

“I know my boy. My boy was trying to revive his daughter. I consider my son a hero – a hero. And they consider him a felon?” Daniel Vena Sr. said. “There was no foul play here.”

Elliana is now in foster care and prosecutors say she has not suffered any other injuries. The family says vena has seen her weekly — but the judge ruled he can’t have contact with her for now.

The family also said Renik had a difficult child birth and the child has experienced medical issues since.

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