By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Child abuse suspect also accused of desertion
Oliver Jonathan Xavier
Jonathan Xavier Oliver, 19, is accused of aggravated assault and aggravated battery and also is classified as a deserter by the Army. - photo by Photo courtesy of ECSO

An Effingham County man accused of a child abuse incident that has left an infant on life support may face further trouble.

Fort Drum, N.Y., officials confirmed that Jonathan Oliver, 19, is a deserter from the 10th Mountain Division based there. Oliver has been missing from the division’s ranks since January 2009, according to Julie Cupernall, a public affairs officer at Fort Drum.

Two of three brigade combat teams stationed there are currently deployed overseas, with one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

Now that Oliver is in custody in the Effingham County Jail, “there is about 1,000 ways this could play out,” Cupernall said.

At this point, Effingham County has the authority to prosecute Oliver on his local charges. They could ask the Army to take Oliver and prosecute him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“The Army does not hunt down soldiers who are AWOL or deserters,” Cupernall said. “We have not been seeking this man.”

Sheriff deputies and emergency medical technicians were called to a Little McCall Road home around 1:30 p.m. on March 4 on the report of a child not breathing. The child, an 8-month-old boy, also possibly had been a drowning victim. Deputies and EMTs administered CPR.

The infant was taken to Effingham Hospital and later airlifted to Memorial Health University Center in Savannah. The infant remains in critical condition on life support.

The child’s mother was not home at the time of the incident, according to investigators.

ECSO investigators took Jonathan Oliver, 19, into custody at Memorial Health University Medical Center later that evening. He has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery and cruelty to children in the first degree.