The father of a Jackson County family known for fostering children has been indicted for a host of child abuse charges.
John Stanley Reece, 55, was indicted in the Jackson County Criminal Court earlier this month for child abuse and neglect, aggravated domestic assault by strangulation and sexual battery by an authority figure.
The victim was a child in his care, according to the indictment.
Reece was arrested Nov. 4 with $25,000 bond, which he posted and has since been released.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will not confirm or deny if the children are still in the Reece’s care.
“Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation, we’re limited as to the information we can provide at this stage,” said TBI Public Information Officer Susan Niland.
The TBI began investigating Reece in September.
“During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that indicated the victim was a child in Reece’s care,” the TBI release states.
According to an article published in the Herald-Citizen in June, the Reece family has 11 children in their care — some are foster children while others were adopted by the family.
Seven people charged in Vinton County Child Abuse cases
VINTON COUNTY, OH – Seven people are facing various charges for multiple instances of child abuse in Vinton County.
The Vinton County prosecutor says the seven were arrested Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury.
In a release, Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown outlined three separate cases where children under a year old were allegedly abused, and one of them died.
Kimes-Brown says in all three cases, the suspects charged have a history of drug abuse.
The indictments include:
– Nicholas Bethel, of Ray, was indicted on three counts of assault, six counts of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.
– Lacey Grant, of Ray, faces charges for endangering children, and permitting child abuse.
– Tyler May, 22, of McArthur, was indicted on several charges including assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.
– Savannah Peoples, 24, of McArthur, was indicted for assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.
– Mark Thompson, 24, of McArthur, is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of reckless homicide, one count of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.
– Hannah Beckett, 23, of West Virginia, faces several charges including child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.
– Tyler Rucker, of Jackson County, Ohio, was indicted for using a minor in nudity oriented material.
“I believe these children are our future and deserve the best that all systems can offer,” said Kimes- Brown. “As a result, many people, through coordinated efforts, worked to attempt to bring security and justice to these victims. I am aware that there are many others who deserve the same. I will continue to use my best efforts and our available resources to ensure that we can provide them the safe environments that they need to heal and thrive.”
Her statement goes on to say, “As a result, at this time, I am asking that our local communities and our state come together to have a hearty discussion about our priorities in addressing the issues that face these children and the systems obligated to protect them. Further, I ask that once that discussion occurs that we take strategical action to implement our priorities and we fund them appropriately.”
18-month-old nephew of suspect’s girlfriend was found in landfill
DALLAS, TX – The man who confessed to police in July that he left a Dallas toddler in a dumpster now faces a murder charge in the boy’s death.
A grand jury indicted Sedrick Johnson in September on a capital murder charge in the death of Cedrick Jackson, the 18-month-old nephew of Johnson’s girlfriend.
Johnson has been in the Dallas County Jail since he was arrested in July. His bail is set at $1,003,000.
Cedrick’s disappearance July 10 triggered an Amber Alert before authorities found the boy’s remains the next day at a landfill on the boundary between Garland and Rowlett.
Johnson, the boyfriend of Cedrick’s aunt, confessed to police that he had put the toddler in a dumpster in northeast Dallas. Cedrick had been in his aunt’s care at that time, police had said previously.
Johnson told police that Cedrick had been swaddled in a blanket on the floor before he died, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit. He told police Cedrick had once “made a mess” with ketchup packets, so he began swaddling the 18-month-old tightly to prohibit his movement.
He told police he unwrapped Cedrick from the blanket after he heard him making noise around 12:30 a.m. The child began vomiting and became unresponsive, Johnson told police.
Johnson told police he gave Cedrick CPR for more than 30 minutes and that the child wasn’t moving but still had a heartbeat, according to the affidavit. After that, he drove to a dumpster and put Cedrick inside, he told police.
The capital murder indictment for Johnson says he intentionally caused the toddler’s death by “an unknown manner and means.” Johnson also was indicted on the injury to a child charge in September.
Johnson’s girlfriend, Chrystal Jackson, faces a charge of endangering a child in Cedrick’s death and disappearance.
In an arrest-warrant affidavit, police said Jackson lied to police for 19 hours about the amount of time she knew Cedrick was missing.
“Were it not for the actions and omissions by Suspect Jackson, law enforcement has every reason to believe the complainant could have been located, potentially alive, within hours of his removal from Suspect Jackson’s residence,” police wrote in the affidavit.
Jackson had called 911 early the morning of July 10, telling a dispatcher that her nephew had been abducted. She said only she, another child and Cedrick were home when a man entered the residence and took Cedrick, according to the warrant.
Police said Jackson repeatedly changed her story about when Cedrick went missing, according to the affidavit.
Police said she also sent “valuable witnesses” away from the location from which Cedrick went missing, referring to five other children who had been in the house at the time.
In forensic interviews, children in the home said they heard Cedrick crying in the early morning, and then “he stopped suddenly and disappeared,” police wrote in an affidavit.
Cedrick’s mother could not be reached for comment Monday. A few days after Johnson’s indictment, she wrote on Facebook that the boy’s aunt deserved the same charge as Johnson.
“You’re telling me this woman lied to y’all for over 19 hours when y’all could have possibly found my baby alive and the highest charge you can give her is child endangerment and her boyfriend gets capital murder,” DiShundra Thomas wrote.
Thomas said she wanted “proper and deserving justice” for her son.
Jackson, the aunt, has not been indicted on the child endangerment charge.
The Good, the Bad and the Puzzling in
Child Maltreatment Counts
Each year, the Oklahoma agency that tracks and investigates abuse and neglect of children issues a detailed statistical report.
Buried in all of the numbers is what appears to be a hopeful trend.
During the past six years, the number of child abuse cases – the most severe form of child maltreatment – has plummeted by more than 50 percent, to 1,407 last year.
At the same time, another measure of how Oklahoma treats its children has risen to alarming levels. During the same period, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect has tripled, to 13,394. That drove an overall 18% increase in the number of cases of abuse, neglect or both since fiscal year 2012, a data analysis by Oklahoma Watch found.
But why would neglect soar and abuse plummet?
Human Services Department officials say they don’t know why, except mainly to suggest that when it comes to child neglect, citizens and professionals who deal with children have become better educated about recognizing the problem, which is defined more broadly than abuse, and are more inclined to report suspected cases.
No one at DHS or among child advocacy groups seems to be celebrating. Some advocates question whether the statistics are accurate and, as they did at a recent legislative hearing, continue to push for more funding to prevent and respond to both abuse and neglect.
“Why overall it (abuse) keeps going down, I don’t know,” said Debi Knecht, DHS deputy director of child welfare programs. “I would like to think society just evolves and stops abusing kids, but I don’t know why that is just in one particular area.”
Among the thousands of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect each year, a large majority involve only neglect. In fiscal 2018, neglect cases made up 86% of the total 15,591 cases, compared with 9% for abuse and 7% for both abuse and neglect.
The most common types of abuse are a threat of harm, such as a child who is in danger of abuse because of their proximity to physical violence; beating or hitting by hand, and beating or hitting with an instrument.
The most common types of neglect are threat of harm, which is when a child faces a direct threat from their environment, such as a home where drug use is present; exposure to domestic violence, and failure to protect a child.
Knecht credits most of the increase in cases of child neglect to statewide efforts to teach law enforcement, teachers and others who work with kids how to recognize and report the problem. Education drives up the number of reports that come into the agency, which leads to more substantiated reports, she said.
Knecht said the opioid epidemic and popularity of methamphetamine have also contributed to growing reports of neglect that involve substance abuse.
Knecht said the increase in neglect cases also could mean the agency is taking action earlier and thus preventing physical abuse. Another contributing factor could be a cultural shift that has caused fewer parents to spank their children, she said.
But Knecht acknowledged it is difficult on the surface to reconcile the divergent trends. An increase in reporting would more likely point to an increase in substantiated abuse, not a decrease, as it did with neglect cases, she said.
Child advocates question the accuracy of the data, saying the number of child abuse cases they see has remained steady or even increased over the past several years.
Dr. Ryan Brown, a child-abuse pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, said he has seen more cases of child abuse in recent years, not fewer.
“No matter what the DHS numbers say, those physical abuse numbers are not going down,” Brown said.
National reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also show an increase in children suffering from abuse and neglect combined.
Mary Abbott Children’s House conducts forensic interviews of children ages 3 to 18 for criminal investigations in Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties and surrounding areas. Interviewer Christi Cornett said the organization interviews around 480 children per year, and that number has remained steady since at least 2013.
Joe Dorman, CEO of the the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and Nellie Kelly, executive director of the Child Protection Coalition, said the reported drop in child abuse cases contradicts what they see every day.
“I want to believe we’re getting better, but I find it hard to believe,” Dorman said.
Reporting Abuse and Neglect: All Oklahomans 18 or older are required to report child abuse or neglect. Reports can be made 24 hours a day, any day, to the state Department of Human Services at 1-800-522-3511.
Dismissed jurors discuss Kenneth Robert Davis’ felony Child Abuse case
GREENE COUNTY, MO – A Greene County jury is deliberating the fate of an accused child abuser.
Robert Davis is charged with 7 felonies for brutally beating and torturing his then, 8 year-old daughter last year.
Attorneys for both sides stated their cases to the jury one last time Thursday morning.
The prosecution declares that Davis severely beat his daughter and that they proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense argued that the state tried to make Davis look bad. They insist that he did not abuse her.
We spoke to two alternate jurors after they were dismissed from the case.
“I felt like I’d ran a race and never got to cross the finish line. I feel glad because I don’t have to be a part of it but I also wish I was able to finish out what we started. I think he was, can I say, a big fat liar? I thought he was a big fat liar,” said Julie Kennedy.
Heather Hutson was also dismissed from the case.
She said, “The defense just seemed kind of almost lost. They weren’t really sure where to go. This guy was guilty. The defense didn’t seem to put up too much of a fight. There was nothing to prove his innocence or to defend his innocence I should say.”
Davis is also charged in the beating death of two year-old Kinzlea Kilgore.
He’ll be in front of a Dallas County, Missouri judge for that case next week.