MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite the fact that they watched the hearing in shackles, the child abuse case against Marsee Strong and Edward Bailey may be in question after investigators testified Wednesday Strong’s son may have been malnourished not because of abuse, but because of documentable medical problems.
The 9-year-old boy was found wandering the street after jumping from the rear window of his home Saturday night. He appeared severely malnourished, and when taken to Memorial Hospital, was found to weigh just 35 pounds. When police investigated, they arrested Strong and Bailey on abuses charges and removed Strong’s other children from the home.
According to police, Strong admitted to failing to protect her child from others and “not properly supervising him and getting him medical treatment in a timely manner;” but denied physically abusing the kid. She did not dispute that bruising covered most of the child’s body.
“He looks like he came from Auschwitz,” said juvenile court Judge Cindy Lederman. “This does not happen in a month.”
However, in court Wednesday investigators painted a different picture of events, one that lent support to Strong’s story.
Investigators said extensive interviews with family, friends, and teachers produced no evidence the parents had hit their children. They also claimed he suffers from an eating disorder, evidence of which was seen while the child has been in state custody.
The disorder causes the child to grossly over-eat and then vomit, leaving the child malnourished. Doctors said they saw the child do this.
The judge was told it also appears calls to the Department of Children and Families about the children were not reporting abuse, but were seeking help for the family.
“I think what we can all take from this hearing is that this is a really complex situation,” Esther Jacobo, Regional Managing Director for the Florida Department of Children and Families told CBS4’s David Sutta. “That it is not as simple as it originally seemed to be. This is family that is need of services but the parents have been seeking services and going to the doctor with this child and we are still trying to figure out what is exactly going on with this child.”
As the state tries to sort things out, the child will remain in DCF custody, first in the hospital and as early as next week in a medical foster home. His brothers and sisters may also be headed to foster care as an uncle who has been caring for them has been overwhelmed by the situation and the problems faced by the children.
One child had to be taken into state custody, for her own protection, after she attacked a teacher.