A Florida couple was charged with aggravated manslaughter for allegedly severely abusing their special-needs toddler in a “bone chilling” child abuse case, police say.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, crews with Bartow Fire Rescue received a call from 24-year-old Takesha Williams at 3 p.m. on May 12. The young mother told phone operators that her toddler’s pulse oximeter wasn’t working properly, but it was not an emergency.
However, when emergency responders arrived, they say they found a 3-year-old boy without a pulse hooked to a ventilator breathing machine. The child was taken to an area hospital where he died, police said.
Detectives observed that the 3-year-old boy had suffered from severe injuries including a severely bloated belly which “appeared to have semi-marbling and was green,” the affidavit states.
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They added there were numerous open sores and several abrasions on the child’s back consistent with bed sores, and he smelled of decomposition.
“This child was rotting in the bed,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press conference.
According to detectives, the child abuse began years prior when the child had suffered from a near drowning incident while at a vacation home in Davenport, Florida in the summer of 2020. Since then, detectives say the toddler has been connected to a ventilator due to the near drowning incident.
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A free home health nurse had been assisting the child, but switched companies about two months ago and hadn’t been back to the home, police said.
At the press conference, Sheriff Judd said that when police interviewed the home health company they said that the parents, Williams and 25-year-old Efrem Allen, Jr., began rejecting care last October. Sheriff Judd said the couple would not answer the door or would not be home when the nurse arrived.
The nurse with the home health company told police that both parents were taught how to remove and clean their young son’s trach.
When interviewed by police, Williams and Allen told investigators that they had noticed that their son’s stomach was bloated and that he was cold to the touch.
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Police said that Williams waited hours before calling 911 despite being aware his pulse oximeter was malfunctioning, police said.
“They just got tired of him,” Judd added. “They got tired of the intensive care this child needed and as a result, this child laid there and suffered and suffered and suffered until finally there was no life left.”
The medical examiner said the toddler has sepsis, pneumonia and stage 5 ulcers.
The couple was arrested on May 13 for negligent child abuse causing great harm and those charges were upgraded to aggravated manslaughter on May 26.
“I’ve seen some truly horrific events in my long law enforcement career, but I have never, ever seen anything as sad, as bone-chilling, and as sickening as what this baby suffered before finally perishing from the despicable acts of these two criminals,” Sheriff Judd said.