SKELETAL CHILD SAVED FROM BRINK OF DEATH IN HORRIFIC NEGLECT CASE, COPS SAY
WICHITA FALLS, TX – When an exterminator entered room 124 at a Delux Inn in Wichita Falls, Texas, late last month, he thought he saw a skeleton lying in a pack-and-play crib.
But, according to a pair of probable cause affidavits filed in Wichita County Court, “When the head of the skeleton turned and faced the exterminator, he realized that the skeleton was a child who was alive.”
The unidentified exterminator told his supervisor what he had seen, and the supervisor called police. Now the child’s mother, 32-year-old Catherine Lynn Jarvey, is charged with two counts of injury to a child and exploitation of a child, both felonies. She remains jailed on $70,000 bond.
In the affidavits, which are attached to a warrant for Jarvey’s arrest, a detective from the Wichita Falls PD’s Juvenile and Crimes Against Children Units who responded to the scene for a welfare check during the early-morning hours of Sept. 21, said the 6-year-old boy, who weighed only 15 pounds, had “hair growing all over his body,” “could not extend his arms and legs,” and “did not let out any noises.” His head was “misshapen,” his spine was severely curved, and the detective could see the child’s rib cage, “which was curved inward and askew,” the affidavits state.
The boy could not walk, talk, or sit up, and was not potty trained, according to the filings.
A small refrigerator in the room contained peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pancakes, and sausages on a stick, as well as cans of Dr Pepper and Bud Light, the documents continue. There were Capri Sun drinks, ramen noodles, canned food, fruit snacks, brownies, and breakfast cereal in a cabinet beneath the TV, and two bags of dog food beside the bathroom vanity. Cops also found “numerous cans of Pediasure” baby formula, some of which had expired in 2020, as well as insulin, lancets, and syringes.
Responding officers took the 6-year-old to a local hospital for examination, where doctors found he weighed only 15 pounds—just 8 pounds above his birth weight and less than the 19 pounds he weighed at 18-months-old, according to the affidavits. He was admitted to the pediatric ICU with severe malnutrition, dehydration, and failure to thrive.
The child hadn’t seen a doctor since 2019, which Jarvey blamed on transportation issues, the filings go on. At the same time, a second child of Jarvey’s living with her seemed fine, had received redehygular medical checkups, and “looked to be average height and weight for a 10-year-old female,” according to the detective. The dogs were also seemingly well cared for, the affidavits state.
Kevin Thomas, the children’s father, shares custody with Jarvey, according to unrelated court records. He told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that he hasn’t seen Jarvey in more than a year, and said they haven’t been together in more than three years.
“I don’t know what she was doing,” said Thomas, who explained he is following developments in the case on television. “I’m still trying to get my kids back. I’ve been trying to find them for about a year now. I hadn’t been able to find them until I heard about what was going on.”
Hospital staff said the 6-year-old was near-death, and that his was among the most appalling cases they had ever witnessed.
“| see patients for neglect every day,” Dr. Elizabeth Peeler of the Cook Children’s Medical Center C.A.R.E. Team in Fort Worth told cops, saying the child was a “near fatality,” according to the affidavits. “This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. This is really egregious.”
Jarvey, who remains detained, was unable to be reached. In an email, court-appointed lawyer S. Aaron Holland declined to comment.
The boy, whose name The Daily Beast is aware of but withholding, hadn’t eaten for as many as 48 hours when he was rescued, emergency room staff believed. Jarvey told detectives that her son had been diagnosed with multiple disorders, including alobar holoprosencephaly, hydrocephalus, pectus excavatum, and scoliosis.
Jarvey, the filings add, told officers that “she is used to having CPS and law enforcement called after people see [her son] because his appearance is so abnormal.” She also allegedly said she missed her son’s feeding times that day because “things kept coming up,” such as getting her daughter ready for a dental appointment.
“Catherine stated to Dr. Peeler and to [the detective] that the [child] was fine on 9/21/2022,” the affidavits say. “Catherine stated that she did not believe that the [child] needed to go to the hospital.”
The child exploitation charge Jarvey is facing stems from $841 in monthly Social Security disability payments and $250 a month in food stamps, which were intended to be used for her son’s care and feeding. Yet, according to court filings, Jarvey didn’t spend it on him.
Jarvey’s alleged neglect “resulted in a near fatality,” the affidavits state. However, Jarvey’s boy is “showing the ability to gain weight and his medical condition is stabilizing.”
As of a week ago, the child weighs 17 pounds, 13 ounces “and is improving daily.”