Three Indiana folks have been arrested after an infant nearly died because of rat bites in what police say is the worst child neglect case they’ve ever seen.
According to an affidavit reviewed by Evansville station WEHT, on Sept. 13th the Evansville Police Department received an emergency call from a man named David Schonabaum.
Schonabaum proceeded to tell them that he’d found his six-month-old son covered in blood and that his son’s fingers appeared to have been chewed off. The boy was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.
“Authorities say the child had over 50 bites to his forehead, right cheek and nose. An affidavit says the toddlers most traumatic injuries were on his right hand, with four of his fingers and thumb on his right hand missing the flesh from the top of them, exposing the fingertip bones,” according to WEHT.
Hospital records reportedly described the incident as a near-fatal event — one that required the boy to receive a blood transfusion.
“From what the doctors and nurses told the detectives, very near to death. The child had lost so much blood that the child actually had to have blood transfusions as well. Several fingers had to be amputated,” police Sgt. Anna Gray said.
What caused this damage? Well, detectives investigating the matter reportedly found rodent footprints and rodent feces in the boy’s room.
“In other rooms of the home, authorities reportedly found rodent feces as well as rat traps and a bait box. Police say the home had a foul odor in the kitchen and basement,” WEHT notes.
According to the affidavit, Schonabaum — the father — told detectives that his cousin owned the home but was allowing him, his wife (Angel Schonabaum), their three children, his wife’s sister (Delaina Thurman), and her two kids to live there.
The cousin reportedly allowed them to stay there so long as Schonabaum maintained the home. Schonabaum claims he got in touch with Terminix to treat the home in March, but according to a service report, the technician didn’t even go inside at the time.
“This was a case where rats had been living in the home. The home was overwhelmed with rodents. They said they were trying to get rid of the rats, but I think they were like trapping about for a day at least. I mean, that’s a lot of rats,” Gray said.
As for how in the world they all allowed his son to get so close to death, he reportedly said he didn’t hear the boy cry.
“Their excuse was that they did not hear the child cry. It’s kind of one of those situations where they were just not paying attention. The injuries were significant and the child was losing blood at a very high rate and the child had a lot of blood loss. The child could have went into shock pretty early on,” Gray remarked.
Schonabaum told detectives that he woke up early on the 13th to check on his son when he noticed blood everywhere but wasn’t certain if the boy was still alive.
“David told police he yelled for Delaina to come help, and they took the child to the bathroom to wash him off to see where the blood was coming from. While washing him, David said he noticed all the fingers on the child’s hand appeared as though they had been chewed on by rats. David said no other children had been bitten by rats,” according to WEHT.
“During an interview with Delaina, authorities say she admitted her oldest daughter and David and Angel’s oldest daughter told a teacher at school on September 1 that their toes were bit by mice while they were sleeping. Delaina spoke with DCS on September 5, and said the home had a ‘normal amount of mice’ for the area. DCS went over a safety plan with Delaina and a follow-up visit was scheduled for September 14,” the site notes.
DCS is short for the Indiana Department of Child Services.
But it gets worse. The affidavit notes that the couple — Schonabaum and his wife — already had a DCS case because of another incident of neglect that occurred in December. Also, Schonabaum was accused of physical abuse in June.
Maglinger Home Based Services reportedly started working with the family in April. The case workers noted that the home was cluttered, that trash was sitting out, that animal feces was all over the place, that dishes were piled up, etc.
But because the case workers believed the situation there was “slowly improving,” no action was sought against the couple.
According to WEHT, Schonabaum, his wife, and her sister have since been booked into the Vanderburgh County Confinement Center on charges ranging from neglect to reckless supervision of a child.
“David and Angel are being held on a $10,000 bond and Thurman is being held on a $2,500 bond. All children were removed from the home by DCS following the incident,” the station notes.
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