Rachel Dove-BaldwinHeartland News Service
September 30, 2012
WILLIAMSON — A Dingess resident was placed under arrest by West Virginia State Police Trooper D.L. Contos after he conducted an investigation into an alleged child abuse case that left an 18-month-old toddler with serious, life-threatening injuries.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Contos, on Sept. 20, he responded to a child abuse and neglect complaint in the Dingess Community involving Melissa Marie Forbes, 22. Upon arrival, the officer observed the victim, the 18-month-old son of the defendant, with multiple contusions to his face, body and extremities.
Forbes first gave a statement to the trooper in which she claimed the toddler had been ill and vomited, and had fallen to the floor which allegedly caused the contusions to his head and face. She then changed her story and advised the officer that the victim was injured while playing with two other children at the residence, with one of the juveniles being her three-year-old special-needs daughter, who reportedly has problems with anger issues.
Forbes then continued with her statement and said she wasn’t aware that any harm had come to her son because she had been asleep for the majority of the day, and was just discovering he was injured upon the arrival of the trooper. She also relayed that her boyfriend, John Huckleberry, was on his way to pick her and the child up so that she could take him to the hospital for treatment. Contos stated that he then made contact with Huckleberry, who claimed to have no knowledge of the toddler’s injuries, nor was he en route to provide transportation to the hospital.
The sister of the boyfriend informed the trooper that she had offered to take the victim and his mother to the hospital after she seen the extent of the injuries but stated that Forbes has refused, saying that she did not want to get her children taken away from her and knew that was a distinct possibility once her young son was examined.
The 18-month-old was then transported to the emergency room of the Logan Regional Medical Center where it was discovered that he had life-threatening injuries that included a lacerated liver, a ruptured spleen and was bleeding internally. The victim was then flown by Health Net to the Cabell Huntington Hospital where he remains at present time in the Pediatric Intensive-Care Unit. Child Protective Services removed the 3-year-old sibling from the home and placed her in foster care.
Forbes was arraigned before Mingo County Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler on charges of child neglect resulting in risk of injury, child neglect resulting in serious injury, providing false information to a trooper and presentation of false information regarding a child’s injuries. Additional charges are pending against the defendant, as well as her boyfriend, who is wanted for questioning in this case.
Forbes was transported to the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden where she is being held on a $50,000 full-cash bond.