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Mar 6, 2024

Bartow man arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for the death of his 4-month old baby girl

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

A joint death investigation between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Bartow Police Department that began on Thursday, February 22, 2024, resulted in the arrest of 22-year old Jacob Kubai for causing the death of his infant daughter, Willow.

Kubai was arrested on March 5, 2024 and charged at the PCSO’s Sheriff’s Processing Center with: Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (F1), Aggravated Child Abuse (F1), and Knowingly Abusing a Child without Bodily Harm (F3, 2-counts). 

Bartow detectives started the investigation after 4-month old Willow Kubai was brought in to Bartow Regional Medical Center with no brain activity and suspicious physical injuries. 

Willow was transported by helicopter to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa and it was then determined that she had a fractured skull, multiple layers of hemorrhaging to the brain, bruises, scratches, and broken ribs.

“Death investigations can often take many months before they are complete. In this case, the injuries to this beautiful baby girl were so severe that it left no doubt how she was killed. I don’t know how a father could do this to his child, but I do know he should be locked-up for as long as the law allows.”Grady Judd, Sheriff.

A PCSO detective conducted separate interviews with Jacob and his wife Rebekah, and neither was able to explain how Willow got her injuries.

During the investigation, Jacob recounted his day with Willow, prior to her arriving at the hospital. He told the detective that she was fine when the two of them were at a local store between 6:40 pm and 7:50 pm. 

After returning home, Jacob said he fed the baby, and then went to check on her at around 8:10 pm and discovered she was not breathing.

Security video from the store that was obtained by PCSO detectives showed Jacob at a self-checkout register at 6:54 pm, but the victim was not seen in the video. 

When confronted with the inconsistency, Jacob refused to provide any additional information. 

A February 27th autopsy performed on the victim by the District 10 Medical Examiner’s Office revealed multiple blunt force trauma injuries to the front of the baby’s head, a swollen and hemorrhaged spine, and an acute skull fracture on the back of the head. There were also ten rib fractures that were in the healing stage.

In the arrest affidavit, the autopsy conclusion states, “Based on the injuries noted, the skull fracture would have been caused by the caregiver at that time. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma of the head. The manner of death was ruled as a homicide.”

The injuries occurred while Rebekah was at work, while Jacob was the sole caregiver of the victim for three hours prior to being taken to the hospital.

It was also learned that on at least two occasions (January 17th and February 22nd), Jacob left the baby alone with no caregiver. 

“Bartow Police Department is thankful for our partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Investigations Unit in this investigation.“Chief Andy Ray, Bartow P.D.