An Arkansas couple was arrested after their newborn baby was found covered in nearly 100 rodent bites.
Police officers in Magnolia, Arkansas, were called to a local medical center on May 14 regarding a child that was bitten by rodents. A nurse told authorities the baby was 15 days old, weighed around 5 pounds and had been severely bitten on its arms, hands, fingers and face. There was also a large wound on the baby’s forehead that exposed the skull, KOZL reported.
The newborn’s parents, 19-year-old Erica Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott, were arrested after Elliott’s mother, Regina Barton, told police her son neglected to take the child to the hospital because he was afraid of the baby being taken from him.
Shryock told police that she put her baby to bed around 5:30 a.m. and woke up to the child screaming two hours later. When she went to check on the child in the bassinet next to her bed, she found the baby covered in blood. Elliott said he found his baby covered in blood around 5 a.m., and found rat footprints in the crib. Both parents admitted they knew the home had a rat problem.
The couple’s roommate, Margie Williams, told police she woke up to the baby crying around 5:30 a.m. and saw the 1-inch hole in the child’s head, which was covered in dried blood. She said she didn't understand why the parents didn't wake up, considering that their infant was sleeping right next to their bed.
A doctor’s note from May 16 concluded that rats fed on the child for hours, causing skin destruction that required facial reconstruction surgery. The surgery took place on May 15. In the note, the doctor said the parents were either absent or incapacitated at the time of the incident.
Both parents appeared in court following the incident, charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree and permitting abuse of a minor. They were ordered to refrain from contact with anyone under the age of 12 and held in lieu of $15,000 bail each, KARK reported. The parents reportedly have three children, all of whom were taken into Department of Human Services care.
Many readers criticized the parents for being irresponsible and called for them to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“These two idiots should NEVER get this child back and should both be sterilized so they cannot produce any more victims to suffer because of their stupidity!!!” one Mad World News reader commented on the site’s Facebook page.
“Sad but they will probably get their child back," another wrote. "Because they are sick. This is what is wrong with saying drug addicts have a disease. They don't have to take responsibility for their actions. I've never heard of anyone else with a disease hurting someone and getting away with it. Physopaths get charged and never see their kids again,drug addicts get chance after chance. I pray I'm wrong. But the unification of families is top priority in courts,no matter the crime.”
“I agree these idiots should never get the baby back," said another commenter. "They also should be fixed so they can never have another one. But our system is so screwed they will spend thousands of dollars to try to help them because they think they are better off with a parent. What they never realize is they are not a parent or they could never do this to their baby."