Ph.D. Student Visiting Friend During School Break Is Accused of Murdering Baby, Abusing Slain Child's Twin

Nicole Virzi is charged with criminal homicide

<p>Allegheny County Jail; Isabella Kahhale and Sam Plate/GoFundMe</p> Nicle Virzi, left, and the Katz twins

Allegheny County Jail; Isabella Kahhale and Sam Plate/GoFundMe

Nicle Virzi, left, and the Katz twins

A Ph.D. student is accused of murdering an infant boy and abusing his twin brother while babysitting for a family friend in Pittsburgh.

Nicole Virzi, 29, is pursuing a doctorate in San Diego. She was staying in Pittsburgh at the time of the baby’s death, according to reports from The San Diego Union-Tribune, WTAE and WPXI.

Virzi was arrested on June 16 and has been charged with criminal homicide, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, according to court records. She has been denied bail and is due for a preliminary hearing on June 28.

Citing the criminal complaint, WTAE reported that Virzi was babysitting newborn Leon Katz while his parents brought his twin brother to the hospital after she had informed them about injuries to the baby’s genital area.

The Union-Tribune, citing the same complaint, reported that before the baby was taken to the hospital, Virzi had allegedly been alone with the child.

After Leon was left in Virzi’s care so his parents could take their other son to the hospital, Leon suffered an ultimately fatal skull fracture, according to the reported complaint.

WTAE reported that a doctor who examined the twins told police that the injuries they suffered were consistent with child abuse and “not accidental,” according to the complaint.

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Virzi’s defense attorney David Schrager told the Union-Tribune that his client did not commit a crime and said the baby fell out of a bouncing chair while she was out of the room.

“We are at the beginning of our investigation, but it’s important to note that my client has no criminal history whatsoever,” Shrager said, according to the paper. “She is a Ph.D. student and was a longtime friend of the family.”

According to her bio page on the school’s website, Virzi is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at San Diego State University and UC San Diego.

A GoFundMe started to benefit Leon’s family referred to Virzi as a “trusted family friend.” So far it has raised over $60,000.

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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