Three children who police say were left without food and adequate sleeping arrangements have been removed from a Rock Hill home where a 5-month-old infant was burned by a heater earlier this month.
While investigating what led to the boy’s injuries, police learned the three children who were still living in the home – a 6- and 2-year-old who belong to the infant’s mother, and the mother’s 13-year-old sister – did not have enough sleeping space, said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department. There was no food in the refrigerator or in the cabinets.
The children were taken into emergency protective custody, Bollinger said. The injured boy’s mother lives in the home with her three children, teenage sister and mother.
Police are working to determine if they will file charges in the burn case, Bollinger said. They have started a separate investigation into the children’s living conditions.
On Jan. 5, a caseworker with the York County office of the Department of Social Services requested that police help her perform a welfare check at an Evans Avenue home, between North Cherry and Celanese roads. Officials with Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte had called DSS after admitting an infant boy who was going to be taken to a burn center in Chapel Hill, N.C., for severe burns on his arms and legs.
Police learned that the boy, born last August, was burned at about 8:30 a.m. that day after one of his siblings moved him next to a heater while their mother, 23, was asleep, according to a police report.
The child had been in a car seat on the living room floor. Authorities realized the infant was left near the heater for several minutes until he started crying. Police say the heater was mounted into a wall and equipped for many older-style homes.
Police have not determined how long the baby was beside the device, Bollinger said.
Late last week, the boy was still hospitalized in North Carolina, Bollinger said.
There was no record of the boy being at the hospital this week, according to a spokesman with the Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Two days after the boy was taken to the hospital, a police detective went to the home to execute a search warrant, according to police records. Once inside, the detective saw that there was no stove in the kitchen and only a couple of cans of food on a shelf. There was no food in the refrigerator.
The 40-year-old grandmother – and mother of the teenage girl – told police there was no food in the house because she buys food daily for the kids to eat.
The teenage girl told police she did not eat breakfast that morning “and rarely does,” the report states. She told police she ate lunch at school earlier that day but she does not always eat dinner.
Police found two mattresses on the floor of the bedroom, the report states. Detectives could find no other bedding.
The Herald was unable to reach the mother and grandmother for comment. A man who answered the door at the home last week claimed The Herald had the wrong address and said, “No babies live here.”
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082