In what a Florida sheriff has called the worst case he has ever seen, a couple are accused of leaving their 3-year-old boy to rot in a coma in his bed after authorities discovered his lifeless body and ulcerative with gaping wounds, no rectum and a hole with visible intestines, spine and colon.
Takesha Williams, 24, and Efrem Allen, Jr., 25, were jailed for negligent child abuse causing serious harm resulting in the death of a 3-year-old child, officials said. The charges were upgraded on Friday to minor manslaughter.
The baby, who has not been identified, was found on May 12 without a pulse and connected to a ventilator when Bartow Fire Rescue responded to a 911 call from the mother saying the child’s heart rate monitor was not working properly . He had been treated at home after a near-drowning accident in the summer of 2020 at a vacation home in Davenport, Florida, officials said.
“They left this baby to rot and die in his bed,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference after the arrests. “I did this for five decades. I have seen thousands of children abused, hundreds of children murdered at the hands of parents. I have never seen the horror that we saw with this poor child in the hands of these two people.
Judd said it all started in July 2020, when “this beautiful baby boy” was just 10 months old. He rushed into the pool and nearly drowned in a short-term rental house. Despite rescue efforts at the time, the child had no brain activity when he arrived at the hospital and couldn’t even blink, the sheriff said. Doctors recommended to the parents that he be removed from lifesaving measures as the child would be forever in a coma with no brain activity.
The parents didn’t want to do this and were sent home with their baby on a ventilator, with a stomach tube and home health care three times a week for more than two years, the sheriff said.
Parents began refusing help for the boy in October, which was the last time home health care cared for the child, he said.
When healthcare workers knocked, “they wouldn’t be home, wouldn’t answer the door,” Judd said. The DCF told authorities that on going to the apartment to see the child, the parents said, “Do not wake the child today.
Judd said the mother received benefits to stay home and care for her baby, but suggested the suspects were fed up with her intensive care.
“I suggest you, and it’s just a guess on my part, they just got tired of the baby,” Judd said.
The grim discovery came on the morning of May 12 when Williams and Allen noticed he was cold to the touch, his stomach was bloated and the pulse oximeter was malfunctioning, officials said.
Williams waited until 3 p.m. to call 911, saying, “It’s really not an emergency. You don’t need red lights or sirens, but we’d like the traffic light to come and check on the baby,” the sheriff said.
When paramedics arrived, they saw the child hooked up to a working ventilator.
“But there didn’t seem to be any life in the child,” Judd said. “This child was rotting in the bed.”
The baby was rushed to hospital, where he died. When medical staff removed her diapers and clothes, they noticed ulcers and large gaping wounds all over her body, right down to the muscle, Judd said. The child smelled of decay.
“They noticed there was no rectum,” Judd said. “There was just a big gaping hole where the intestines and the spine were visible.”
An emergency doctor said the child had not received proper care for months. A medical examiner said the child had sepsis, bilateral pneumonia and stage five ulcers, Judd said.
Authorities said Williams and Allen noticed the boy had large open sores but were afraid to contact anyone as they feared the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) would remove their two other young children. The children, aged 2 years and 10 months, appeared healthy and were removed from their care, Judd said.
“They said people would assume it was negligence,” authorities said in a news release. “However, they said the victim was not neglected.”
Judd said his goal was to send them to jail “as long as possible”.
“And then from there, God has to take over,” he said.
Williams and Allen are being held in Polk County Jail on $100,000 bail each.
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