Category Archives: Drugs

The Last Days Of A 5-Year-Old

.jpg photo of 5-year-old Boy, who had skin breakdown or bedsores, and was tied down, or was so weak or malnourished that he was unable to move at the end of his life.
5-year-old Elijah Lewis suffered a level of abuse that went far beyond what they typically see, “It would fall into the category of torture, really.”

Medical experts say Elijah Lewis appears to have been ‘tortured’

Autopsy raises new questions about texts sent by New Hampshire child’s mother

The sores were something you’d see on someone living in a derelict nursing home — or someone held in restraints.  The malnourishment hinted at weeks, if not months, without adequate food.  And then there was the trauma to the head.

The final days of 5-year-old Elijah Lewis’s short life remain shrouded in mystery, but medical experts say the recent autopsy findings alone suggest the shaggy-haired little boy from Merrimack, N.H., suffered a level of abuse that went far beyond what they typically see.

“It’s more than just . . .  minor medical neglect,” said Alice W. Newton, medical director of the Child Protection Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.  “It would fall into the category of torture, really.”

The autopsy results also raise new questions about text messages sent by the boy’s mother, Danielle Dauphinais, 35, who is being held without bail in New Hampshire along with her boyfriend, Joseph Stapf, 30.  In the January texts sent to a friend and obtained by the Globe, Dauphinais said she argued with Stapf’s mother for giving Elijah too much food, saying “this child will eat till he pukes.”   Stapf’s mother, according to Dauphinais’s text, said it was “child abuse” to withhold food from a child.

Five-year-old Elijah Lewis had fentanyl in his system and died from violence and neglect, autopsy finds

Reached Monday, Dauphinais’s attorney, Jaye Rancourt, declined to comment on the messages, saying that “without verification that this is actually a text message from my client,  I can’t really respond.  This could be a complete fabrication.”

The texts match a detailed description of the messages given by the person who originally received them.

Questions about the circumstances of Elijah’s death have only grown since his body was discovered in the woods of Abington, Mass., on Oct. 23, following a 10-day search that included law enforcement agencies from at least five states.  Since then, authorities have released little in the way of details as they continue to investigate.  Meanwhile, relatives and people who lived near the child’s home in Merrimack say they seldom saw the boy in the months leading up to his disappearance.

The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office last month ruled the boy’s death a homicide, determining the cause to be “violence and neglect, including facial and scalp injuries, acute fentanyl intoxication, malnourishment and pressure ulcers.”  Pressure ulcers, more commonly referred to as bedsores, are typically found in bedridden people unable to change position.

But neither Dauphinais nor Stapf has been charged with murder. Instead, they are being held on charges of child endangerment and witness tampering related to their alleged attempts to mislead investigators trying to determine the boy’s whereabouts in October. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Mom accused of encouraging people to lie about whereabouts of missing 5-year-old N.H. boy, prosecutors say

It remains unclear how involved New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families was with the boy prior to his disappearance.  The agency has declined to comment on the case, though authorities have said that DCYF initially reported the boy missing to law enforcement on Oct. 14, and Dauphinais told a friend last June that she’d been in contact with the agency.

Texts sent by Dauphinais to another friend and obtained by the Globe make it clear that she had serious concerns about her son, including the amount he ate, at least nine months before the boy was discovered missing.

In a text to a friend on Jan. 7, Dauphinais complained that Stapf’s mother, Joanne — with whom the couple shared a home — was feeding the boy against her wishes.  Dauphinais said Joanne Stapf would also “baby him and love on him” even when Elijah acted up.
“I made Elijah a decent plate of food and she insisted on giving him seconds,” Dauphinais wrote in a January text.  “I told her no because this child will eat till he pukes and then eat some more. I also told her that he’s having cake after so there is no need for seconds.”
“She said I was wrong and that was child abuse,”  Dauphinais continued.  “She said that she’s an Italian grandma and that she considers this child abuse in her family. Like wtf!”

The 5-year-old boy was found dead and his mother jailed. ‘What the hell was happening in that home?’

According to two physicians who spoke with the Globe, both of whom specialize in cases of child abuse or neglect, the details outlined in the autopsy report paint a particularly grim picture.  Though neither is involved with the case or privy to case files, both described the autopsy findings to be extreme, even within the realm of neglect cases.

“This is not like an everyday thing,” said Dr. Suzanne Haney, a Nebraska-based child abuse pediatrician who serves as the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. “This extreme of a case, fortunately, is very rare.”

Both doctors described the bedsores, in particular, as highly irregular in a developmentally normal child.  The painful, circular lesions are almost never seen in young, physically mobile patients, leading them to believe that Elijah could have been restrained in some way prior to his death.

“Skin breakdown or bedsores is not something you’d ever see in a healthy 5-year-old,” said Newton.  “That, to me, speaks to being tied down . . . or [being] so weak or malnourished that he was unable to move at the end of his life.”

Added Haney, “If you combine malnourishment and pressure ulcers, I’m thinking he was either restrained or his malnourishment was to the point where . . . he was unconscious or semiconscious for a period of time.”

Either condition would’ve been a red flag to doctors, said Newton — but it’s unclear whether Dauphinais ever took Elijah to see a physician in New Hampshire.

Born in Arizona in 2016, the boy spent much of his early life in the custody of his father following his parents’ contentious 2017 divorce.  In divorce paperwork, Timothy Lewis accused Dauphinais of being “violent and impulsive” and having a “history of domestic violence and substance abuse.”  A decree approved by the court blocked Dauphinais from spending time with her son.

Last May, however, for unclear reasons, Elijah arrived in New Hampshire to live with Dauphinais and her boyfriend, Stapf.

Though initially excited by her son’s arrival, Dauphinais, two friends said, soon became exasperated by what she described as the boy’s myriad behavioral issues.  In texts to a friend last summer, Dauphinais likened her son to a serial killer, saying she felt no connection to the child and that she wanted him “gone.”

‘I want him gone.’ Elijah Lewis’s mother messaged a friend just months before his mysterious death

One friend, Michelle O’Brien, who has known Dauphinais since both were teenagers, told the Globe she’d provided the name of a pediatrician to Dauphinais, but did not know whether she ever followed up on it.

The office of New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella, which is handling the case, has declined to release records of previous police visits to the home that Dauphinais and Stapf shared, though neighbors said police were a common presence at the residence, which backs up to a quiet lake.

New Hampshire Representative Kimberly Rice, who chairs the House committee on children and family law, acknowledged that the state’s child welfare agency has suffered from staffing issues that have left it hamstrung.

“I don’t think they’re doing a bad job at DCYF,” said Rice.  “We have positions that need to be filled that are funded, but the people aren’t there, and if the people aren’t there, I don’t know how you continue to hold an agency accountable when you can’t get the positions filled.”

Investigators pledge to find justice for 5-year-old boy after body found buried in Abington woods

As the criminal case moves forward, meanwhile, Moira O’Neill, director of the New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate, said her office would be opening an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Elijah’s death.

Appointed by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in 2018, O’Neill provides oversight of the state’s child protection services, as well as “holding systems accountable,” according to the state website.

But with a small office currently engaged in other cases, she cautioned that the process could take up to a year to complete.

“If what’s reported in the newspapers is correct,” O’Neill said, “it does sound as though this was a preventable death.”

TX Attorney General’s Office Assisted U.S. Marshals Roundup Of 38 Violent Fugitives

.jpg photo of TX Attorney General LogoOperation ‘Wash Out’ Results in 38 Arrested for Gang-Related Offenses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2021

AUSTIN, TX  –  The Office of the Attorney General assisted in an operation that resulted in the arrest of 38 fugitives wanted for gang-related offenses.

In Bexar County, the Austin Fugitive Apprehension Unit assisted the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force’s warrant initiative, named Operation Wash Out, from September 20-27.

These efforts focused on members of the most violent gangs in the greater San Antonio metropolitan area. As a result of this warrant initiative, the following were arrested – including one of Texas’s Top 10 Most Wanted:

  • Moses Calderon – Parole Violation for Murder with a Deadly Weapon and Assault Bodily Injury.  Member of Hermanos Pistoleros Gang.  Texas Top 10 Most Wanted.
  • Steven Acevedo – Assault Family Violence. Member of Tango Orejon Gang.
  • Samantha Acosta –Possession of Controlled Substance.
  • John Anthony Arroyo – Probation Violation for Smuggling Aliens and Stolen Vehicle.
  • Ruben Benavides – Parole Violation for Aggravated Assault Against Public Servant and 2 counts of Assault Bodily Injury.  Member of Klik Gang.
  • Nicholas Blanco – Racketeering and Murder.
  • Ricky Ohara Coleman – Parole Violation for Assault Bodily Injury Family Violence. Member of Wheatley Court Gang.
  • Jonathan Duque – Assault Family Violence.
  • Brenna Farley – 2 counts of Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon.
  • Rogelio Gloria Flores – Probation Violation for Manufacturing/Delivery of Cocaine. Mexican Mafia Gang Member.
  • Arturo Garza, Jr. – Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon. Member of Texas Mexican Mafia Gang.
  • Ceasar Andrew Gomez – Probation Violation for Amphetamine Possession. Texas Syndicate Gang Member.
  • Adrian Michael Gonzales – Assault Family Violence Strangulation.
  • Monte Joseph Govan – Parole Violation for Aggravated Robbery, Unlawful Restraint and Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon.
  • Lane Everett Grinage – Felon in Possession of Firearm.
  • David Anthony Hernandez – Probation Violation for Dangerous Drugs and Probation Violation for Smuggling.
  • Larry Guerrero Hernandez – Parole Violation for Unauthorized Use of Vehicle and Assault Bodily Injury. Member of Mexican Mafia Gang.
  • Linda Flor Ibarra – Aggravated Robbery.
  • Rolando Lopez – Probation Violation for Smuggling Aliens. Taiza Gang Member.
  • Rene Arnold Martinez – Tampering with Evidence and Assault Family Violence. Member of Texas Mexican Mafia Gang.
  • Rafael Resendez – Possession of Controlled Substance.
  • Nathaniel Xavier Ramirez – Probation Revocation for Evading Arrest and Detention with Vehicle.  Member of West Side Varrios Gang.
  • Humberto Ramos – Possession of Dangerous Drugs.  Member of Hermanos Pistoleros Gang.
  • Michael Roberson – Parole Violation for Possession with Intent to Deliver and Failure to Appear regarding a 2nd DWI.  Member of the Bloods Gang.
  • Ruben Rocha – Assault Public Servant.
  • Marc Andrew Rodriguez – Assault Family Violence.  Member of Tango Orejon Gang.
  • Guzman Carrizales Sambrano – Parole Violation for Homicide and Possession of a Controlled Substance in Penal Institution.
  • Jeremiah Sambrano – Failure to Appear Assault and Escape from Custody.
  • Spurgeon Williams – Probation Violation for Cocaine.  Member of East Terrace Crips Gang.
  • Matthew Alexander Woosley – Felon in Possession of Firearm.  Member of Tango Orejon Gang.
  • Tyson William Yetts – Parole Violation for Assault Family Member.
  • David Zepeda – Parole Violation for Murder.  Member of Mexican Mafia Gang.

CO Man Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse

.jpg photo of colorado man whose son was found encased in concrete
Leland Pankey, 40, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

Father of Denver boy found encased in
concrete pleads guilty to Child Abuse;
murder charge dropped

DENVER, CO  –  The father of a 7-year-old Denver boy found encased in concrete in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge in the case, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the murder charge against him.

Leland Pankey, 40, was charged with murder in Caden McWilliams’ death in May.  In a hearing on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

The murder charge was dropped in the deal.  Pankey now faces up to 72 years in prison.

“This agreement provides justice for Caden while ensuring that Mr. Pankey will serve a significant amount of time behind bars,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release Thursday.  “This is one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office and we were acutely concerned about re-traumatizing Caden’s family as well as the jury, judge and everyone else involved should this case proceed to trial.”

Pankey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.

The body of McWilliams was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of child abuse resulting in death.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner ruled in a report in March that Caden had been malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system.  The boy also had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to the autopsy.  He may have suffered from asphyxia, dehydration or hyperthermia, but that couldn’t be confirmed, the autopsy said.

In an interview with police in March, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.  The couple and their two children had moved into the hotel in May 2018, and Leland Pankey watched the children while Elisha Pankey went to work, she told investigators.

Elisha Pankey said Caden died in July 2018 after his father kept him in a dog kennel, the affidavit said.  A woman who had been in the Arapahoe County Jail with Elisha Pankey in December said Pankey told her that she believed her son suffocated in the dog kennel.

Leland Pankey kept Caden in the kennel overnight – with blankets on top of it – and the boy cried out that he was hot and thirsty, Elisha Pankey told her fellow inmate, according to the affidavit.

On the day Caden died, his mother and father bought Quikrete, trash bags and water, drove Caden’s body to the storage unit on Evans Avenue, and mixed the concrete and poured it into the kennel, the affidavit said.

The boy’s body wasn’t discovered until December, when officers responded to a domestic violence call involving the Pankeys.

Police learned that the couple had two children, and Elisha Pankey told officers that the children were with their father.  When police contacted Leland Pankey, he said one child was in daycare, but he avoided answering questions about Caden, eventually telling officers the boy was with his mother, the affidavit said.

When officers interviewed a woman whose name was redacted in the affidavit, she told police that Leland Pankey had lost his son and that Pankey said her family could have their storage “because it had too many memories,” the affidavit said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Pankeys’ storage unit and found Caden’s remains inside.

Ohio Prosecutor Making A Difference For Children

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
“Children are our future…”. Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown

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.”

SC Woman Wanted In Death Of Infant

.jpg photo of woman wanted in death of infant
Stephanie Marie Healey is wanted for Homicide by Child Abuse in the death of an infant on December 29, 2018.

WANTED: Homicide by Child Abuse
suspect sought by Georgetown PD

GEORGETOWN, SC  –  Georgetown police are searching for a woman in connection with a homicide by Child Abuse case.

According to the Georgetown Police Department, Stephanie Marie Healey is wanted for Homicide by Child Abuse in connection to the death of an infant on December 29, 2018.

The incident report states that the child was born at 2:45 a.m. and died less than three hours later at 5:03 a.m.

In the report Chase Ridgeway from the Georgetown County Coroner’s office told officers the baby tested positive for opioids and had cocaine in its system.

The report says that Healey was the child’s mother and gave birth via C-section when she was 34 weeks pregnant.

If you see Healey or have any information on her whereabouts, please call Georgetown Police Department at 843-545-4300