4-year-old’s death investigation reveals ‘uninhabitable’ living conditions, parents’ drug use.

July 28, 2022

4-year-old’s death investigation reveals ‘uninhabitable’ living conditions, parents’ drug use.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

GRANT TOWNSHIP — The 22-page police report that details the investigation of the death of a 4-year-old boy earlier this month reveals “uninhabitable” living conditions in the single-wide trailer where the little boy, his six siblings — including an infant — and their parents lived on Clay Road near Rothbury.

Investigators seized what was believed to be methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia from the trailer. “Multiple items tested as methamphetamine and fentanyl/methamphetamine,” the report states. 

First responders to the scene described the residence as “uninhabitable” with garbage piled up in the middle of the kitchen; a locking mechanism on the refrigerator that contained very little food; and flies “everywhere.”

The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the home July 1 to assist Grant Township Rescue and Life EMS with the boy who was not breathing. Aid was attempted, and then the 4-year-old was transported to Trinity Health Hospital in Shelby where he was declared dead.

The first emergency worker to arrive on scene said he had a difficult time making entry because debris and household items were scattered around the front door. When the emergency worker entered the residence, he noticed that the child’s father was attempting to do CPR compressions “and was doing them poorly” the report states. 

The father expressed that his son had “a really bad tooth infection” that they had been dealing with the previous night and said that he gave the child ibuprofen. 

“There were multiple sirens of vehicles coming into the yard,” states the report. “It was very loud and chaotic.”

“I went to (the mother’s) bedroom, where the door was shut,” states the report. “I knocked on the door, and no one answered. I could hear a television on in the bedroom. I knocked a couple of times and received no answer. I then opened the door and noticed that (she) was lying on her back in bed covered by a blanket. I yelled at her several times to wake up, but she did not stir. I then shined my flashlight in her face trying to get her attention, and again she did not stir. I walked over and shook (her) by the shoulders. She eventually did wake up.”

Investigators described the condition of the house. “The front north door of the residence was basically impassible because of all the items on the floor around the door. The residence was in an extremely poor condition. There was a large pile of household garbage in the middle of the kitchen. All of the counters were full of debris and leftover food. The kitchen sink was moldy and completely unusable. I do not believe there was running water in the residence, because there were approximately six empty 1-gallon containers of water scattered about. There was rice and other carton food items spilled out of the shelf onto the counter. All of this stuff appeared to have been there for a very long time. 

“There was a minimal amount of food in the refrigerator. There was also a locking device on the refrigerator to prevent anyone from getting into it. At the time I was on scene, it was unlocked. The rest of the home was in worse condition. The ceiling was falling down. In the back bedroom, there was a lot of debris on the floor. The home had a stench of garbage. Flies were everywhere, and it was uninhabitable in this condition.”

Witnesses told investigators that they did not believe the mother had been out of the house “in months, if not years.”

The boy who died and the baby were the only children in the house with the parents when emergency crews arrived. The other five children were with grandparents.

Child Protective Services was in the process of preparing a petition to remove all of the children from the home and eventually obtained an order for the kids to remain in the care and custody of their grandparents until an emergency hearing. 

A neighbor had seen the boy two nights before his death and told investigators that his face was “extremely swollen.” The neighbor said “approximately every night all of the children come over to his house for supper.” 

During an interview with the child’s father, he said that he looked at the child’s tooth and saw puss coming out of the area around the tooth. He told investigators that he had planned to take the boy to the doctor that day.

The mother admitted to investigators that both she and the children’s father use meth and heroin. She told police that the drugs are kept in a lock box.

“I am aware that the matter is under investigation,” said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon. “Rules of professional conduct specifically MRPC 3.6 and 3.8 indicate that the prosecutor (and police) should not make pretrial statements about a matter beyond that it is under investigation until evidence is presented in court. This matter remains under investigation and it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment on charging decisions while the Oceana County detectives are diligently working hard to finish the investigation. The investigation is waiting on an autopsy that is not complete at this time. By law, the autopsy may take up to 120 days.”

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