MO Father Held For Horrific Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Father accused of Child Abuse
Robert Burnette

Infant clinging to life after Abuse from
father in Wentzville apartment

WENTZVILLE, MO  –  Investigators gave an update Monday on a horrific case of child abuse in St. Charles County that left a baby boy in critical condition.  We’re told it is one of the worst child abuse cases Wentzville police have ever seen.

Police say this all started last week when Robert Burnette couldn’t deal with the crying from his 6-week-old baby.  He decided to shove his fingers down the baby’s throat to stop the crying.  St. Charles County investigators also say the child’s mother, Megan Hendricks, stood by and watched the whole thing in their Wentzville apartment.

Court documents say Burnette threw the baby onto a bed shook him and picked him up by the back the neck.  A roommate also saw the abuse but has not been charged.

The baby, identified as J.B., is in critical condition at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital with broken bones, liver contusions, and bleeding on the brain.  While his recovery chances are low, if he survives, he will have lifelong physical and mental disabilities.

Both parents are facing, neglect and causing serious emotional or physical injury.  The father is being held on a $500,000 cash only bond.  The mother’s bond is set at $250,000.

Tennessee Child Severely Beaten

.jpg photo of Child beaten to death
PJ Beeks

Toddler killed;  man charged with
Child Abuse

MEMPHIS, TN  –  A man was arrested Tuesday for child abuse against a 1-year-old boy, according to Memphis Police Department.

Officers received a call about an injured child at Lakes at Ridgeway, an apartment complex located on Waterstone Oak Way.  When they arrived, they found the young boy and sent him to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.

Officers determined the child was severely beaten.  He did not survive.

Investigators identified Carl Braxton as a suspect in the child’s death.  He was arrested Wednesday.

Braxton is the boyfriend of 1-year-old PJ Beeks’ mother.

“He took an innocent life of a defenseless 1-year-old,” PJ’s aunt Jasmine Welch said.  “For nothing.”

Welch is trying to cope with the loss of her nephew.

“When we found out that the man who did it confessed, and how he confessed, and what he said happened […] was like astonishing,” she said.

Welch said Braxton killed PJ while his mother was asleep.

“He didn’t show no remorse,” Welch said.  “Like he didn’t care.  He didn’t care.  He said my nephew suffered.”

Braxton has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated child endangerment, and child neglect.

Professor Charged With Porn, Lewd And Lascivious Acts

.jpg photo of Professor arrested for Child Sex Abuse
Embry-Riddle professor Mark Fugler, 58

ERAU professor charged with Child Abuse,
9 other counts

Florida  –  A professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has been charged with child abuse and committing lewd and lascivious acts with someone less than 16 years old.

Embry-Riddle professor Mark Fugler was arrested Friday night in Ormond Beach, according to arrest records.  Fugler has been charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct to someone less than 16 years old, two counts of showing obscene material to a minor, one count of child abuse, and three counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition, the arrest records show.  Fugler, 58, is being held at the Volusia County jail on $550,000 bail.

University spokesman James Roddey said in an email that Fugler is a professor of civil engineering at the Daytona Beach campus and that he was hired by the school in 1996.  He said that “university officials will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities on this investigation.”

A woman at his Ormond Beach home answered the door but declined to comment about the charges.

According to the university’s website, Fugler was currently teaching four classes and his areas of expertise included advanced materials in civil engineering, structural performance prediction, civil engineering in aerospace education, and remote structural condition assessment.

Father Accused Of Allowing Abuse

Stepmother accused of burning, cutting
4-year-old boy

QUARRYVILLE, PA  –  A Lancaster County woman is accused of physically abusing her 4-year-old stepson, causing lacerations, multiple burns and bruising over his entire body, while the boy’s father let it happen.

Danielle Duke, AKA Danielle Miller, and the boy’s father, Nathan Duke, were the sole caregivers at a home at 783 Lancaster Pike in Quarryville, according to investigators.  Both face multiple charges.

State police started investigating after a concerned person alerted them.  According to court documents filed today, that person told police “on numerous occasions, spanning approximately three months, she observed Danielle Duke on a daily basis cause (the child) to suffer her verbal, physical, and psychological abuse and Nathan Duke’s failure to stop said abuse.”

**** WARNING!!!! Graphic Content!!!

According to the document, the following abuse was witnessed (please note some of the following content is graphic):

  • Child’s legs were wrapped in a sheet, then duct tape was applied to the child’s legs, confining him for hours.
  • Child was force-fed “poop beans,” which contained adult laxatives.
  • Hot sauce was poured into the child’s mouth.
  • Child was forced to sit on the toilet and defecate on command or stay on the toilet for two to three hours until he was able to defecate.
  • If the child soiled his pull-ups, he was forced to wear them for hours.
  • The child was locked in a third-floor closet that was lined with gym mats and barricaded outside with a mattress and dresser. The child was locked inside for hours and sometimes scratched the walls saying that the rats would come and get him.
  • The child was sometimes taken to the fishing creek but made to stay in the car with a bandana tied around his eyes while other children played.
  • The child was yelled at and, among other things, told he had a “stupid … ugly face” and that he was a pig.

Nathan Duke told a state police trooper that he did not seek any medical care for his son because he knew the injuries looked like they were the result of child abuse.

Nathan Duke faces charges of criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children.

Danielle Duke faces charges of false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, endangering the welfare of children, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and harassment. 

Kids Count In Abilene TX

.jpg photo of Child Abuse semenar
Dr. Jamye Coffman, medical director of Cook Children’s Medical Center’s C.A.R.E. Team.

Hendrick seminar examines Child Abuse

Abilene, TX  –  Knowing if a child’s injuries constitute abuse can be a difficult task, requiring medical personnel and others to step back and see if the facts fit, said Dr. Jamye Coffman, medical director of Cook Children’s Medical Center’s C.A.R.E. Team.

“Does the story they’re telling of the fall off the bed, the turning on the hot water accidentally, whatever it is, does that fit with what you’re seeing?”  Coffman said after her talk, “Recognition and Evaluation of Child Abuse,” at Hendrick Medical Center on Thursday.

Coffman spoke Thursday at “Kids Count…On Us: A Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse.

The idea for “Kids Count” grew from an “alarming increase in child abuse cases in our area,” according to information provided by Hendrick.

“We feel like this needs to be offered in our community and information needs to be given out to everyone, not just nurses but law enforcement, Child Protective Services, social workers, and people in our community that deal with these problems every day,” said Susie Striegler, sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator.

This year’s conference included presentations on babies born addicted, recognition and evaluation of child abuse, interdiction for the protection of children and sex trafficking in Texas.

Those trying to ferret out the truth of an injury must know if a child’s injuries are consistent with the history of the case, consistent with the child’s developmental level, and whether or not the history is constant over time, Coffman said.

One must also consider any potential delay in seeking care, possible triggering events and overall timing, she said.

WITH NO HISTORY

A problem is that often, children come in with no additional or known history, she said, something that “really hamstrings the medical staff because they’re having to figure out what’s wrong with this child with no information,” Coffman said.

“We never know what we’ll see when we’re called in,” Striegler said.
Certain injuries, though, can provide clues – bruising patterns, for example.

“Accidents happen, but the child has to be old enough to get into the accident,” Coffman said after her talk.  “If you have a child that is non-mobile – they can’t crawl, they can’t walk, how are they going to get hurt?  And if they do get hurt, somebody knows.  They can’t get back up into the crib, somebody has to pick them up and put them back.”

There’s really no such thing as a person’s rank outstripping anyone else, she said, at least when it comes to this issue, she said.

“It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if you have concerns, you have to make the report,” Coffman said, recalling times when nurses correctly expressed concerned about possible abuse when physicians didn’t.

“It takes that investigation to know if it is or isn’t (abuse),” she said, a process that begins with an individual following through on initial concerns.

EFFECTS DIFFER

Abuse can affect a child in a variety of ways, Coffman said.

We know that abuse is toxic stress,” she said.  “We know that it has the potential to have effects down to the cellular level”.

That includes brain structure – “how the brain grows or doesn’t grow, what neurons are created, what connections are created,” she said.

Abuse can create changes at the hormonal level because of the stress hormones, she said.

“It can create risk for chronic health conditions later in life,” Coffman said.

Abuse can even create change at the genetic level, she said.

“There are what is called epigenetic modifications, so it can even change gene expression, which can be generational,” she said.

Such considerations make intervention “extremely important from a public health standpoint – not only moral and ethical,” Coffman said.

“If you get the intervention, if you make the report, the child gets the help they need,” she said.

Without such help, “there’s no hope,” she said.

Appropriate intervention can also open positive doorways for parents, Coffman said.

“Parents of these kids, I think sometimes we have to look at their past, and instead of saying ‘what’s wrong?’ (ask) ‘what happened to you?’” she said  “That can open up the conversation.”

And that means those parents may be open to more help, including learning “different ways to parent,” Coffman said.

If they’re willing to do that, then “perhaps we can stop the cycle” of abuse, she said.