Police Investigate Home of Baby With 100 Rat Bites. They Find Red Footprints Running Across Her Crib – Independent Journal Review

Note: This article contains graphic content.

At first, the father claimed his infant daughter had been bitten by a mouse. However, the evidence showed the baby was being eaten alive by rats.

As KARK News reports, 19-year-old Erica Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott knew their newborn daughter was seriously hurt. Not only did she wake them with her crying, but they’d seen blood on her and her bedding. But the couple from Magnolia, Arkansas, still didn’t want to take their baby to the hospital.

According to the police affidavit, Shryock and Elliott were awakened by cries early on the morning of May 14. However, they waited until Elliott’s mother arrived at their home at 9 a.m. before they did anything about their daughter’s injuries. Elliott told his mother he thought the 15-day-old girl had been bitten by a mouse.

At first, the young parents resisted taking their daughter to the hospital, saying they were afraid the girl would be removed from their custody. But Elliott’s mother insisted, saying the baby needed help regardless of what might happen. The couple finally agreed.

When the medical staff at Arkansas Children’s Hospital saw the little girl’s injuries, they immediately called the police. The five-pound baby was covered in rat bites — about 75 to 100 of them. The bites were all over her hands, face, fingers, and arms. A one-inch bite on her head was so deep that part of her skull was exposed.

The doctors could tell the bites didn’t occur over a short period of time. According to Arkansas Online, a physician at the hospital told police the baby’s “severe skin destruction” was the result of “rat feeding”:

“It would have taken hours to occur and [the baby] would have been in distress during this process.”

The report goes on to add that the doctor thought there was only one possible reason why the rats were able to feed on the baby for so long:

“That the caregivers were either absent or incapacitated to not have responded.”

When police questioned Elliott and Shryock about what happened that night, they heard conflicting stories. Both parents acknowledged they knew they had a rat problem but hadn’t done anything about it. However, the baby’s mother and father had different accounts of when they heard the baby crying and what they did about it.

Shryock told police she had put her daughter to sleep in their shared bedroom around 5:30 a.m. and was awakened by her crying about two hours later. She then noticed that the baby was covered in blood.

Elliott, however, said he woke up to the baby’s crying at about 5 a.m. and saw the blood. When he went to get a rag to clean up, he noticed “bloody rat prints” in his daughter’s crib.

Police also interviewed the couple’s roommate, Maggie Williams, who said the baby’s crying woke her at about 5:30 a.m. Williams also noticed the bite on the baby’s face and dried blood. She told police that the baby sleeps beside her parents and didn’t know how they could have slept through the cries.

When police searched the couple’s home, they found more evidence of the horrifying attack. In the living room, they found the baby’s bassinet, where it had been moved on Sunday morning. Inside, there was blood and bloody rodent footprints.

In the bedroom, where the family sleeps, police found an infant toboggan on the floor “soaked in blood,” along with a bloody baby blanket. On the cabinet in the bedroom, investigators found rodent droppings.

According to the Magnolia Reporter, the baby had facial reconstruction surgery on Monday for the severe bite on her head. Her parents were originally charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, but those charges were later upgraded to a felony.

It is not known whether the baby contracted any illness transmitted by rats and mice. According to the Centers for Disease Control, rodents are responsible for the spread of more than 35 different diseases, some of which can be fatal. These include Rat-bite Fever, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, plague, Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, Hemorrhagic Fever, and Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis.

The parents’ reluctance to get medical help for a newborn with 100 rat bites makes this an obvious case of neglect, However, sometimes the warning signs can be more difficult to see. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some indicators of dangerous child neglect are:

  • Begging or stealing food or money.
  • Lack of necessary medical care (including dental care, glasses, and immunizations).
  • The child has serious body odor or is often dirty.
  • The child frequently misses school.
  • A lack of appropriate clothing for the weather/climate.
  • The child abuses alcohol or drugs.
  • The child talks about not having anyone at home to care for him or her.

Some signs of harmful child neglect can be seen in parental behavior as well. A parent or caregiver who abuses alcohol or drugs, seems indifferent to his/her children (or apathetic in general), or behaves in an irrational or bizarre manner may also be neglecting his or her child.

In the case of infants, who can’t explain that something is wrong, it can be especially difficult to detect abuse or neglect. According the the Chicago Tribune, a baby who cries inconsolably may be trying to communicate something more than just discomfort. Expert Neil Hochstadt told the Tribune it’s important for doctors to consider that crying could indicate abuse:

“The first line of defense is to think of abuse as a possibility. If a pediatrician, or whoever, doesn’t think about abuse as a possibility, they will often miss it. We have to be vigilant.”

If you suspect that a child is being neglected or abused, you can find the proper state agency to report it through the Child Welfare Information Gateway. You can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child.

Police Investigate Home of Baby With 100 Rat Bites. They Find Red Footprints Running Across Her Crib – Independent Journal Review

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