NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - ?
A couple charged in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy will remain in jail without bond until February.
Theia Darion McArdle, the 21-year-old mother of the child, and her 27-year-old live-in boyfriend, Richard Frank Vermon Bowman, are charged with homicide by child abuse. They appeared before Municipal Court Judge Barry Koon Wednesday morning, who explained the charges against them but said he did not have the authority to set bond.
McArdle and Bowman will be back in court Feb. 13, and will remain in the Newberry County Detention Center until then.
Newberry police say McArdle and Bowman, who are from Enoree, were in Newberry County with the child for McArdle to respond to an online advertisement requesting a female escort.
"Once she had met with the person in Newberry," Newberry Police Captain Roy McClurkin said, "she left the residence and, sometime after leaving that residence, something occurred in the car where the three year old child was severely injured and lost consciousness."
Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton said the child was pronounced dead just after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning at Newberry Memorial Hospital. The death was deemed as suspicious in nature by the Newberry County Coroner's Office and the Newberry City Police.
Police say statements made by McArdle and Bowman regarding Gabriel's death did not add up.
"During those interviews, statements were made by Theia McArdle and Richard Bowman that conflicted with the evidence found during the autopsy and body scan," McClurkin said.
Newton requested a full body scan on the child from the emergency room physician that treated the child and found what Newton termed as "disturbing traits."
Newton said the child had bruises on the outside but nothing that looked like a fatal blow.
Newton said the cause of death was respiratory depression caused by subdural hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head.
An autopsy performed early Tuesday morning revealed information consistent with child abuse, Newton said.
"It's a terrible situation," Newton said. "It's really sad when you see these types of things. I have three grandchildren. I actually have a grandchild about that age. So, certainly, you think about those things. In a situation like this, that 3-year-old child cannot speak for himself. So, the Coroner's Office and law enforcement are the only ones who can speak for him, and thankfully in this instance, I think we were able to do so."
The Newberry Police, SLED and the Newberry Coroner's Office are working on the investigation.
A check of Bowman's and McArdle's criminal records with SLED show both were charged with misdemeanor criminal domestic violence in Spartanburg County in October 2014.
No cases have been filed against McArdle and Bowman with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, but a 2013 case investigated in North Carolina was completed in August of 2014.