Two people assaulted 3-year-old, thought he was dead the next morning, police say
BOONE COUNTY, KY – Two Northern Kentuckians were arrested Friday for allegedly abusing a 3-year-old child, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.
Shane C. Sasher and Karen Spurlock face criminal abuse and second-degree assault charges in incidents that left a boy badly beaten. The pair “thought he was deceased” the next morning, according to the sheriff’s office.
The boy, Spurlock’s son, lived with his mother and Sasher in the 10000 block of Irish Way in Union, Kentucky.
On Tuesday, medical professionals at St. Elizabeth Edgewood notified law enforcement that the boy had “significant facial injuries consistent with abuse,” including abrasions and contusions beneath his eyes and to his forehead, temples and cheeks.
The victim’s left eye was swollen shut.
Over the course of a three-day probe, the sheriff’s office said, investigators learned the boy was alone in the residence with Spurlock and Sasher the night before.
After suffering separate assaults, the sheriff’s office said, the victim was given Motrin and put to bed. Spurlock and Sasher attempted to wake him up the next morning, and before he awoke they believed he may be dead.
They later took him to the hospital, blaming the injuries on a fall down stairs, the sheriff’s office said.
Detectives found inconsistencies in their statements, according to authorities. Spurlock said Sasher told her not to report the initial injuries the boy suffered from the first assault.
The child is now in the custody of a relative.
Sgt. Philip Ridgell, a spokesman for the Boone County sheriff’s office, said Spurlock and Sasher are in custody at the Boone County Jail. No bond or arraignment date has been set.
“Three-and-a-half years’ worth of emotions stirred in Kevin Patrick Smith,” CNN reported.
“The 45-year-old said he was sitting in the Medford, Oregon, federal courthouse on Wednesday for the sentencing hearing for Donald Courtney Biggs, 40, when he rushed Biggs and punched him.
“Biggs, a former youth pastor at Mountain Christian Fellowship, had pleaded guilty in February to one count of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor, according to a news release from the US attorney’s office for Oregon.”
According to reports, the sentencing hearing was a long and testy one for the one-time youth pastor at the Medford, Oregon church.
First, victims’ statements were read, going on over two hours. Then it came time for sealed statements in Biggs’ defense.
It was all too much for Smith.
“At that point, I just kind of snapped,” Smith told CNN.
“I charged across the courtroom. He was sitting behind a desk. I leaped over the desk and got a punch in on his face.”
An enraged parent getting a shot at a man who victimized a child can be a frightful sight. Biggs was knocked to the ground, where he lay in the fetal position, according to the The Daily Wire. He was later taken to a hospital.
“Full force, just like Superman, it looked like he flew through the air right into him and just punched him,” Jacob Elkin, a witness, told CNN.
Smith was charged with obstructing governmental or judicial administration, fourth-degree assault and second-degree disorderly conduct. However, this being 2018, there’s already been a GoFundMe page set up for his assistance.
“Kevin smith is what I would like to call a heroic figure, a true man of justice, an outstanding man,” the page read.
“As of Sunday night, the page had raised $12,915, most of it coming in individual contributions of $125 or less,” CNN reported. That number was up to almost $15,000 by early Tuesday afternoon.
One of the issues in the case was that even prosecutors thought justice wasn’t served. This included Elkin, who set up the GoFundMe page and is also a relative of a victim. He also used an image of Superman in the campaign, something with which I might begin to think DC Comics might not be terribly thrilled with.
Even though the investigation revealed multiple instances of inappropriate contact and recording devices used, Biggs was only charged with one count.
That still brought a pretty stiff sentence.
Biggs “was sentenced today to 188 months in federal prison for surreptitiously recording minor church members in various stages of undress while employed as a youth pastor at Mountain Christian Fellowship in Medford,” a statement from the United States’ Attorney’s Office District of Oregon read.
“This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.”
And, as it stands, Biggs is going to be spending a goodly chunk of his life behind bars. And on his way, he managed to make national news in the worst way possible.
In the United States, methamphetamine is making a comeback. Following the legalization of medical marijuana in California, Mexican cartels pivoted to the production of pure liquid meth, which is brought across the border and crystallized in conversion labs. There is more meth on the streets than ever before, according to William Ruzzamenti, a 30-year Drug Enforcement Administration veteran and the Executive Director of the Central Valley California HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). It’s also cheaper than ever—the average cost of an ounce of methamphetamine dropped from nearly $968 in 2013 to around $250 in 2016.
“I think a lot of people associate meth with the 1990s, and this comeback has gone largely unnoticed in the shadow of the heroin and opioid epidemics,” Mary Newman, a journalist at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, told The Atlantic.
Newman’s short documentary, Motherhood and Meth, focuses on the drug’s frequently overlooked and arguably most vulnerable victims: children. Although no scientific research has been conducted that directly correlates meth addiction to child abuse or neglect, many experts on the subject report a connection that Newman describes as “staggering.” In her film, Newman interviews Dr. Philip Hyden, a child abuse specialist who has worked across the U.S. for more than 30 years. Since 2010, Dr. Hyden has served as the medical director at the Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, the poorest urban ZIP code in the state. Fresno experiences a high incidence of child abuse, and Dr. Hyden attributes one cause to the high rate of methamphetamine addiction in the region. He estimates that meth use is involved in over 70% of the 1,000 abuse cases the clinic sees each year.
“We see children that have been beaten or abused in many scenarios where the perpetrator was on meth at the time,” Dr. Hyden says in the film. “We see things that are hard to believe that happen to kids.”
This abuse sometimes begins during pregnancy; an estimated 19,000 meth users in the U.S. are pregnant women. In home environments where meth is manufactured, children almost always test positive for methamphetamine—often at levels as high as addicted users, according to an expert in the film.
To get a firsthand look at the effects of methamphetamine addiction on mothers and their children, Newman’s documentary follows law enforcement officers, professionals at treatment facilities, and mothers affected by meth addiction who admit to having neglected their kids. Newman met many of these women at Fresno’s weekly free needle exchange. She interviewed more than twenty women—some of whom agreed to participate, only to disappear once a shoot date was scheduled—before she found the subjects featured in the film.
“Once I built up some essential trust with women willing to share their struggles of addiction, I would ask if meth ever caused them or someone in their life to become violent,” Newman said. “Everyone responded with an emphatic ‘yes.’” Newman added that she heard “harrowing” stories about domestic violence, child abuse, and a generational cycle of meth addiction. Many of the addicts she spoke to were either the child of a meth addict themselves or had experienced abuse early in life.
“The power methamphetamine has on a person’s life was the most surprising part of [reporting] this story,” Newman said. “I would speak with people struggling with addiction and they would have a certain self-awareness that their decisions were derailing their life, but they would also describe a feeling of complete helplessness.” Newman said that several people—both addicts and experts—described meth as “evil” due to the sheer power over the people that use it.
“These kids are the ultimate victims,” says a police officer in the film. “They didn’t ask for this.”
ARDMORE, OK – Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant said an investigation into a child abuse case which began August 1 via the Dickson Police Department is still underway.
The investigation is now being conducted by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.
“There was a two year old and a four-year-old inside the home,” Bryant said. “The conditions inside the house were dilapidated, very bad conditions. The house had lots of feces, animal feces, and no running water.” Bryant said Dickson Police sent the two-year-old child to the hospital. That child was later airlifted for medical care. The other child was treated by a local doctor, Bryant said. The children have been placed with a foster family and their medical needs are being addressed.
“The child who was airlifted was released to a foster family,” Bryant said. “He is mobile, moving around laughing and talking.“
Bryant said the children are the biological children of the male subject in the case. Bryant confirmed charges have been filed on both the biological father and spouse.
“This right here has been the worst we have ever seen,” Bryant said. “It’s very disheartening, as a father myself. It has been very difficult for everyone that has worked on this. No child deserves this. This is unacceptable.” Bryant confirmed both subjects remain in custody as of Friday morning . Bond was set for the male subject in the amount of $1 million. Bond has been reduced for the female subject to $75,000.
“This was an issue that Dickson PD had been involved with early on,” Bryant said. The family had been previously investigated by DHS as well, according to Bryant. “We want to offer assistance to any agency having these issues. We want to make sure these things are handled correctly and taken care of swiftly. We want to help those children who don’t have a voice for themselves.” Bryant said more charges may be added as the investigation is still ongoing.
While investigators are looking into whether the female subject may have participated in the abuse of the children, Bryant said knowing the abuse is being perpetrated and not reporting or protecting the children is just as reprehensible. “She didn’t do much to stop it, from what we’re understanding,” Bryant said. “You’re just as guilty if you know this is happening and don’t try to stop it. We would encourage anyone out there who has information about any kind of abuse whatsoever going on, please call us and let us help.”
Bryant said he waited to discuss the case with the public or the media until he could be sure he could present precise information. “We want to make sure that what we’re reporting is 100 percent factual before we discuss it,” Bryant said. “When you have children or infants at stake here, we want to protect the integrity of the case.”
Gardens cops who saved choking baby at mall are ‘angels,’ mom says
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Two Palm Beach Gardens police officers are heroes to a panicked mom whose 14-month-old daughter turned blue while choking on a chicken nugget at The Gardens Mall two weeks ago.
Lucia Graham has been eating solid food — and a lot of it — since she was 9 months old, but on that afternoon, the chicken nugget she was chomping on got wedged in her throat, mom Ana Graham said. The Wellington mother of two could tell right away that something was wrong.
“On her second bite, I noticed she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started turning red,” she said.
She yanked Lucia from her stroller and patted her on the back like the pediatrician taught her, but to no avail. Lucia started turning blue.
Then, “like angels from heaven,” two Palm Beach Gardens police officers who had been sitting across the food court appeared, she said.
Officer Robert Ayala, who had been assigned to the mall July 21, saw Ana Graham “frantically” get up and go to the stroller minutes after the family sat down. He ran up and grabbed the baby, put her face down on his left hand and struck her upper back with his palm a few times. Then he swept her mouth with his finger.
The stubborn chicken nugget remained stuck until Ayala forcefully patted little Lucia on her back again. That’s when she finally spewed out the mushy nugget.
As the ordeal was unfolding, Officer Rafael Guadalupe immediately got on his radio to call for Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue and talked to Ana Graham to try to keep her calm.
Ayala said he usually likes to walk around the mall so that people see him in uniform as a crime deterrent. He was at the food court only because Guadalupe was there for lunch.
“It was just the right place at the right time,” he said.
Palm Beach Gardens police undergo CPR and first aid training — including how to respond to choking adults and infants — at least every other year, department spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said. Ayala credits his training for his quick response.
“This thing happened so fast, you didn’t have time to react. It’s just like muscle memory,” said Ayala, a father of three.
The Palm Beach Gardens City Council honored Ayala and Guadalupe Thursday night. Ayala previously received a life-saving award for forming a human chain with other officers to save two firefighters who got trapped in a rip-current effect as they attempted to rescue a young man who drowned in a spillway while wake-skating.
As for Lucia, paramedics checked her out as a precaution. The scare didn’t stop her from finishing her lunch.
Lucia’s 2 1/2-year-old brother, William, unfazed by the incident, continued eating his chicken and french fries.
Dad Curt Graham got a very long text message while he was at work, “which is never a good thing.” He called his wife, who was shaken up as she recounted what happened.
He’s “eternally grateful for the fast action,” he said.