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Officials: Baby in Arkansas suffered 75 to 100 rat bites, needed facial reconstruction surgery

by Debra Hale-Shelton | May 17, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.
Erica Shryock (left) and Charles Elliott, both of Magnolia

A physician said a 2-week-old girl had an estimated 75 to 100 rat bites scattered over her 5-pound body and has undergone facial reconstruction surgery since being hospitalized earlier this week, a Magnolia police report said Tuesday.

The report, written by criminal investigation division secretary Shea Bradley at the Magnolia Police Department, says investigators received notes Tuesday from a doctor at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Surgery was necessary "to address the large open wound on her [the baby's] head," the report says.

The names of the doctor and the baby were redacted from the report, released by the office of deputy prosecutor Ryan Phillips in Columbia County.

[DOCUMENT: Read police affidavit detailing the case]

Phillips was unavailable for comment by telephone, his office said. The office released the report, but the report did not contain information about any charges in the case.

The baby's parents were listed in a Magnolia Police Department news release as Erica Shryock, 19, and Charles Elliott, 18, both of Magnolia. Each faces a first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor charge. Both were being held without bail Tuesday in the Columbia County jail.

Police Lt. Sam Kirby spoke with a nurse at Magnolia Regional Medical Center where the 15-day-old infant was initially treated Sunday, according to the report. Two other police officers were called in to help with the investigation, and the baby was soon transferred to the Little Rock hospital, officers reported.

The infant's "arms, hands and face were covered in rodent bites, her fingers were bitten as well," the report says. "There was a wound that was approximately one inch in diameter on [her] forehead, the skull was visible."

The report said Elliott's mother, Regina Barton, told police that her son had told her the baby had been "bitten by a mouse" and that she told the baby's parents that they needed to take the infant to the hospital even though they were afraid they would lose custody of her.

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Shryock told police that she put the baby to sleep about 5:30 a.m. Sunday and that she was sleeping in the same room in a bed beside the baby's bassinet, the report said. She said she awoke to screaming about 7:30 a.m., a time that did not coincide with what others told police, according to the report.

She then went to feed the baby and "noticed that she was covered in blood," the report says.

"Erica stated that she knew there were rats in the house, but admitted that neither she [nor] Charles did anything to address the rodent issue," the report adds.

Elliott said they awoke to screaming and crying about 5 a.m., and then "he saw blood everywhere," the report says. "He said he went and got a rag to clean [the baby] up, and that you could see bloody rat footprints in the crib.

"Charles said that he knew rats were in the house, and that they did not do anything to take care of the issue," the report says.

Police arrested the parents and then went to the couple's home where they were living with another person, Margie Williams, who agreed to let police search the residence, the report says. There, police saw bloody rodent footprints in the bassinet, the report says.

They also saw a blood-soaked, infant toboggan lying on the floor, the report says. "Next to the bed, where the bassinet would have been, there was a wooden cabinet," the report says. Rodent droppings were on it and officers also found a bloody baby blanket, the report says.

Williams told police that she awoke about 5:30 a.m. to the baby's cries and noticed the hole in the infant's head. By then, the blood was dry, she said. "Williams stated that she does not know how the parents did not wake up because the baby was sleeping right beside them," the report says.

The Arkansas Children's Hospital physician said "severe skin destruction" had resulted "from rat feeding, and stated that it would have taken hours to occur and [the baby] would have been in distress during this process," the report adds. The physician said her opinion is "that the caregivers were either absent or incapacitated to not have responded," the report says.

Information on whether the couple has an attorney was unavailable late Tuesday.

State Desk on 05/17/2017

Print Headline: Officials: 75 to 100 rat bites on infant; Baby undergoes surgery on face

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