Boy’s mother and live-in girlfriend charged with abuse, bail set for $1 million
As of Tuesday, questions were still surrounding the details of the case of a 5-year-old who was found to have suffered torture and starvation at the hands of his mother and her live in girlfriend for nearly two years.
Department of Children and family services was asked to give a full report to county supervisors on what actually occurred during that time. The two women, 24-year-old Starkeisha Brown, the boy’s mother, and Krystal Denise Matthews, 21, were charged Tuesday in Compton, with one count each of torture, child abuse, corporal injury to a child and dissuading a witness, and two counts each of conspiracy. Their arraignment was postponed to June 25.
Police said Brown and Matthews who lived in an apartment in South Los Angeles, “beat Brown’s son repeatedly, burned his genitals and other parts of his body with cigarettes and left him to sit in his own urine. The boy was also suspended with his hands above his head to a door and beaten, and was regularly forced to put both his hands on a hot stove, causing burn injuries so severe that he may not ever be able to fully open them.”
He was also hung by his hands and wrists from a doorjamb and beaten with some sort of leash or chain, and was routinely denied food and water, the LAPD told reporters.
A third woman, 26-year-old La Tanya Monikue Jones who was alleged to have been the child’s baby sitter at times was arrested this week. Prosecutors said Jones burned the boy’s hand over a stove while she was babysitting, and that she allowed her young son and daughter to go with Brown and Matthews to the Department of Children and Family Services to hide the alleged abuse. She is charged with one count each of child abuse, corporal injury to a child and “In my time in policing, 27 years, I have never seen anybody with these kind of injuries that has lived,” Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief James McDonnel told reporters.
An anonymous caller reported the abuse to DCFS who called the two women down to their offices on June 9. Meanwhile, upon DCFS’ impending investigation, the two women attempted to have Jones’ 4-year-old pose as the real victim. However, the women were unable to answer all of the questions about the boy’s identity and attempted to flee.
But someone else who was babysitting the boy that day had neighbors call the police because the boy “appeared ill.”
Meanwhile, the victim has been hospitalized, suffering from kidney damage due to malnutrition. Bail for both Matthews and Brown, who both have had prior convictions, has been set for $1 million.
Health officials describe child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child’s needs, is also a form of abuse.
Most abused children suffer greater emotional than physical damage. An abused child may become depressed. He or she may withdraw, think of suicide or become violent. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away or abuse others.
Witnesses to abuse should call their local law enforcement agency. Commons signs of abuse, according to DCFS include:
Repeated Injuries: bruises, welts, and burns. Parents may seem unconcerned, deny that anything is wrong, or give unlikely explanations for the injuries.
Neglected Appearance: Children often are badly nourished, inadequately clothed, are left alone or are wandering at all hours, always seem as if nobody cares. (Sometimes, though, over-neatness may be a sign of abuse.)
Disruptive Behavior: Very aggressive, negative behavior constantly repeated can signal a desperate need for attention and help.
Passive, Withdrawn Behavior: when children are excessively shy and friendless, it may indicate that there are serious problems at home.
Parents who are super critical: Parents who discipline their children frequently and severely may begin to abuse them when their unrealistic standards are not met.
Families who are extremely isolated: Parents who don’t share in school or community activities and resent friendly contacts may be distrustful of people, afraid of their help. “Use caution and good sense in identifying child abuse,” they said.
“Every parent makes errors in judgment and action at some time but when it becomes plain that there is a pattern or it is becoming one, then it’s time for help.”
The Child Protection Hotline is open 24 hours a Day, 7 Days a week, toll free within California (800) 540-4000, outside of California (213) 639-4500.