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Couple Charged In Girl's Drowning And Mistreatment
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 6, 2003

COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO--Denise and James Whittle faced various charges Monday related to the abuse, neglect and death of 6-year-old Elizabeth Goodwin, and the abuse of her younger brother, Ethan.

Elizabeth, who had autism, drowned in a bathtub on October 22.

Investigators later determined that the girl had been mistreated for several months prior to her death. They claim that the couple applied duct tape to Elizabeth's mouth, force-fed and withheld food from her, overdosed her with medications such as suppositories, and applied hot sauce to the her anus to force bowel movements. Investigators also allege that James Whittle broke Elizabeth's leg while trying to keep her from squirming off the toilet.

The Whittles also mistreated Ethan, who was 1 1/2 at the time, according to police. The couple punished the boy -- for soiling his diapers -- by overdosing him with medication and forcing him to sit for hours on a toilet.

"I would say a lot of it is understated," Kevin McCarty, whose wife was one of Elizabeth's therapists, told the Spokesman-Review.

Denise Whittle, 34, faces four charges: involuntary manslaughter, felony injury to a child and two misdemeanor counts of injury to a child.

James Whittle, 36, is charged with three counts of injury to a child, one of which is a felony.

Each remains in the Kootenai County Jail on $100,000 bond.

The Whittles became guardians for Elizabeth and her two younger siblings in October 2000 after making a private arrangement with the children's birth mother. The arrangement was supposed to last only three months, but when the mother returned to retrieve her children, she was unable to find the Whittles.

Child welfare agencies have said that the private nature of the guardianship arrangement kept them from stepping in to help the children.

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