MAGNOLIA, Ark. (KARK) – Two parents have been arrested after their newborn baby was found seriously injured with up to 100 rodent bites on its body.
Around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, authorities from the Magnolia Police Department were called to Magnolia Regional Medical Center in Arkansas in regard to a child that had been bitten by rats.
An ER nurse explained that the child was 15 days old and weighed about five pounds. A doctor noted about 75 to 100 rat bites were found scattered on the baby’s body.
Police said the baby’s arms, fingers, hands, and face were covered in rodent bites. There was a wound about one-inch wide on the baby’s forehead, in which the baby’s skull was visible, according to police.
The child’s parents have been identified by police as 19-year-old Erica Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott.
Police spoke with the baby’s paternal grandmother, Regina Barton. Barton said Elliott told her the baby had been bitten by a mouse and he told her he was afraid the baby would be taken away. Barton said she told her son that either way, he needed to take the child to the hospital.
Police then spoke with Shryock and Elliott.
Shryock told police she put the baby to sleep around 5:30 Sunday morning and woke up to the baby screaming around two hours later. She said the baby sleeps in a bassinet next to her bed.
When she got up to check on the baby, she said the baby was covered in blood. Elliott told police the same thing, though he said he noticed rat footprints in the crib.
Shryock and Elliott admitted knowing there were rats in the house, but that they didn’t do anything to address the rodent problem.
Elliott said he and Shryock waited for his mother to get to the house before taking the baby to the hospital around 9 a.m. He admitted he did not want to go to the hospital for fear of losing his child.
The two parents were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree.
Police determined that Elliott and Shryock had a roommate, Margie Williams, who gave police consent to search the home.
When police searched their house, they found the bassinet with bloody rat footprints, a baby’s hat soaked in blood, a baby blanket with blood on it, and rodent droppings on the bedside table.
When police questioned Williams, she told them she woke up around 5:30 a.m. to the baby crying. She said she noticed the hole in the baby’s head and said the blood was dry.
Williams told police she didn’t understand how the parents didn’t wake up since the baby was sleeping right beside them.
On Monday, the baby had facial reconstruction surgery to address the large open wound on her head.
Police received a doctor’s note Tuesday from a physician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
The doctor noted there was severe skin destruction from rat feeding that would have taken hours to occur. The doctor said the baby would have been in distress during those hours, and that the parents were either incapacitated or absent to not have responded to the baby’s distress.