A couple from Magnolia in Arkansas is facing felony as their baby has suffered a maximum of 100 rodent bites.
19-year old Erica Michelle Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott were previously held at a Columbia County facility for endangering the welfare of a minor-first degree, but the charge has since been updated to a Class B felony.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Ryan Phillips said that last Sunday at around 11:30 a.m., police were sent to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center, where they were tipped that a female baby who was 15 days old was given treatment for rat bites all over her hands, arms, fingers, and even face. Included in her injuries was a 1-inch-long wound found on the forehead, rendering the skull visible.
Later on, the infant was transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
According to Elliot’s mother, Elliot was afraid the baby would be taken away after a mouse bit her. The couple feared too that after finding out the injuries, the authorities would take the baby away from them once brought to the hospital.
Elliot’s mother claimed persuading the young couple to finally take the baby to the hospital after seeing her injuries.
Police also spoke with Shryock, who said she was jolted awake by the baby screaming on Sunday morning and saw her covered in blood. Elliott relayed the same information to them, adding that when he started cleaning up the blood, he saw rat footprints in the baby’s crib.
Based on the interview with the couple, Shryock prepped the baby to sleep in a bassinet at around 5:30 a.m. The screams were heard at around 7:30 a.m. while the baby was sleeping in the same room of their house, and the couple admitted waiting until Elliot’s mother arrived at around 9 a.m. before rushing to the hospital.
Rats In The Family Home
Both Shryock and Elliot admitted that they had previous knowledge of a rat problem in their house.
“But [she] admitted that neither she or Charles did anything to address the rodent issue,” the official statement noted.
After an authorized check of the residence, the police saw a bassinet by the living room from the bedroom. The bloody object had rat footprints, while a bedroom also had a bloodied infant toboggan, bloodied baby blanket, and a wood cabinet containing rat droppings.
A doctor told investigators that the infant had “severe skin destruction from rat feedings,” adding it likely took hours to take place. The patient is considered in distress while it was all happening, with the baby’s caregivers not present or unable to respond to the situation.
The child received an estimated 75 to 100 rat bites. She also underwent facial reconstruction surgery Monday to tackle the open wound on her head.
The couple is currently held without bond, and a class B felony is penalized with 5 years to 20 years of imprisonment and a $15,000 fine at a maximum.
Back in 2013, 10-year-old Aidan Pankey died, and the family’s lawyer argued that Petco and their supplier Barney’s Pets were aware that the rats they sold were affected by the bacteria causing rat-bite fever.
A San Diego jury eventually ruled that Petco was not liable for the boy’s death.