In brutal child abuse, boy found with chunks of scalp missing and fingernails lodged in cheek; five arrested
Five people have been charged with felony child neglect in Kosciusko County after a boy was found with signs of severe abuse throughout his body
Five people have been arrested in connection with the prolonged abuse of a severely malnourished three-year-old boy, investigative officers in Indiana confirmed. Authorities found the boy in March with broken bones, a cut septum, facial bruising, and parts of his scalp missing.
Nappanee police detective Nik Havert reportedly said that 41-year-old Jammy Stacy is allegedly responsible for the child's injuries. According to him, Stacy was a friend of the boy's 24-year-old mother, Rune Springer, as well as his legal guardian. Springer told Stacy she could no longer afford to care of the boy before signing the guardianship of the child to her. The handover took place a year before the abuse was detected, Havert said.
However, both Springer and Stacy are now charged with neglect of a dependent with serious bodily injury. Speaking to People, Havert said the boy would have died from the physical abuse, malnutrition, and dehydration if Springer had waited just two more days to take him to the hospital. "That was the doctors' assertion," the detective explained. "They told me this kid would not have lasted the week."
An investigation into the abuse determined that Stacy had been beating the child for several months, but no one around him, including his mother, reported the abuse, Havert said. Others facing similar charges in the case are Stacy's mother, 59-year-old Annette Priestly, and his aunt, 58-year-old Fayette Robinette.
The detective asserted that both women had ample opportunity to report "what was obvious abuse" to the authorities considering the boy would stay with them often.
The fifth suspect in the case is 38-year-old Travis Tillotson, Springer's husband, who is also charged with neglect of a dependent. According to Havert, the investigation began when the mother and stepdad took the victim to a hospital, a day after Stacy reportedly dropped him off at their residence.
It is being said that Springer and Tillotson phoned Stacy about the boy's condition as soon as she left the child. Stacy claimed he had already been to a doctor who said he was in good health.
When Springer refused to believe her story, Stacy threatened her that if she called the authorities, she would end up in prison for child abuse as well, Havert said. The mother allegedly took a day and a half to take a decision before finally bringing her son to the hospital.
In their initial meeting, Havert described the boy as "rail thin", with cuts on his mouth and face, a scabbed-over nose, and broken arms. It was found that some of the victim's teeth were also broken and his septum was cut due to some form of trauma. Furthermore, deep portions of the child's scalp were missing, Havert said. However, authorities are yet to find if that was due to the physical abuse or the child scratching himself.
The authorities also found text messages from Stacy's phone that revealed that the child's injuries happened while in her care, and also while the boy was babysat by Priestley and Robinette. Court documents confirmed that the boy was missing one to two inch pieces of his scalp, had a cut septum, his fingernails appeared to have been dug into, his cheek and nose were scabbed, he had broken arms and broken teeth and a severe weight issue.
Priestly was charged only this week despite the initial arrests taking place months ago. Currently, all defendants have been released on bail until the investigation concludes and none of them have entered a plea deal, according to People.
The boy is currently on the road to recovery and will need additional surgeries before he is fully well, Havert said. According to him, the victim is "doing amazing" as compared to his previous condition. "He's night and day from when we got the first call, and it’s because he's got a great foster mother," Havert said. "I saw him recently — they had a birthday party for him at a church — and I didn’t even recognize him when I walked in. He had put on weight and was being extremely active."