Man Charged with Murder After Allegedly Playing Video Games While 8-Month-Old Daughter Died in Bathtub

Justin Kidwell, 20, was arrested in connection with the May 2023 death of his daughter, authorities say

<p>Burkburnett Police Dept.</p> Justin Kidwell

Burkburnett Police Dept.

Justin Kidwell
  • Justin Kidwell, 20, has been charged with murder, records show

  • Kidwell was allegedly on the gaming app Discord while the infant was left unattended, per police

  • He has a past history of child endangerment, records show

A Texas man is charged with murder after allegedly playing video games while his infant daughter died in the bathtub, authorities say.

Justin Kidwell, 20, was arrested by law enforcement officials in Burkburnett, Texas, on Monday in connection with the child's May 2023 death, Burkburnett Public Safety said in a statement.

Police responded to a distress call regarding “an unresponsive infant” on May 14, 2023 in a Burkburnett home, the statement said.

They recovered an 8-month-old girl from the bathtub who was "tragically deceased," per the statement.

During a nearly year-long investigation conducted by Burkburnett police and the Texas Rangers, investigators found that the child died after she was allegedly “left unattended in the bathtub with the water running,” the statement said.

Authorities also claimed that evidence found on Kidwell’s electronic devices allegedly shows he was “engrossed in video games while the child was left unsupervised.”

Kidwell was the only adult in the house at the time, police said.

He allegedly admitted to officers that he placed the child in the bathtub with the water running and went to get his headphones and talk to a friend on Discord, a gaming platform, KAUZ reported, citing an arrest affidavit.

He allegedly told officers that he had left the child for anywhere between 30 seconds to a few minutes, the affidavit claimed, according to the outlet. Officers noted in the affidavit that the water was left running long enough to overflow from the bathtub, flood an air vent in the bathroom and dampen the rugs outside the bathroom.

His friend on Discord called 911 when Kidwell allegedly found the child face down in the water, according to the affidavit, the outlet reported.

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Kidwell has a prior offense regarding the safety of a child, online court records show. In 2022, he pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment for allowing a minor under 15 to be near a controlled substance or consume it, according to records reviewed by PEOPLE.

He is currently being held on $500,000 bond on the murder charge, court records show.

Plea information was not available in online court information reviewed by PEOPLE. An attorney listed for him did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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