Investigators: Starving Teen Abandoned At Hospital Had Long Abuse
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 9, 2004
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI--The average 16-year-old weighs between 120 and 170 pounds.
The ill Michigan teenager abandoned at an Illinois hospital Monday weighed just 40 pounds.
Hospital officials said he was severely malnourished, dehydrated, had bedsores, sunken eyes, protruding bones and appeared to be in shock. He tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine, said state investigators, who added that he could not have taken the drugs without assistance.
The boy, who is not named in media reports, was airlifted Tuesday to an intensive care unit at a St. Louis hospital. On Thursday, his condition had been upgraded from critical to serious and stable, a hospital spokesman said.
Now investigators are trying to figure out what had happened to this young man, who has mental retardation, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The picture they have pieced together so far is of a boy that has been repeatedly abused, going back to when he was shaken as a baby in San Jose, California. His father is a convicted sex offender who is not allowed legally to have contact with the boy.
His mother and a 14-year-old brother apparently are homeless, and had recently traveled through Texas and Indiana. They were traveling through Illinois when they took the boy to a Mount Vernon hospital. While he was being airlifted, the family quietly left the hospital. An address given for the family turned out to be for a Chicago pizza parlor.
The teen has been placed in protective custody. Investigators found that he had previously been placed in protective custody in Michigan.
A spokesperson with the Children's Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services said the case involves several states, making the investigation more complicated and the determination of where he should be placed more difficult to determine.
Ann Ricci, the emergency room physician who treated him at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, told the Associated Press she could pass no judgments on the family.
"Some families in crisis need help," she said. "The state and hospital social services are there to say, 'Let us help, let us take the burden.'"