In 2017, an Arkansas couple was charged with child abuse after taking their 15-day-old infant to a local emergency room with nearly 100 rat bites received while lying in the crib. The crib sat next to the couple’s bed.
Erica Michelle Shryock, 19 at the time, and Charles Otis Elliott, 18 at the time, were sentenced to five-years incarceration after pleading guilty to one count of permitting the abuse of a minor. They also received 10-years probation.
The parents stated they placed the baby girl in the crib about 5:30 a.m. By 7:30 a.m. they were awoken to the sounds of the baby screaming. The parents noticed the child covered in blood but did not check on her further. Instead, they called Elliott’s mother who arrived at the home two hours later. About 9:00 a.m. the infant was taken to the hospital.
Doctors found the infant’s arms, fingers, face and hands covered in rodent bites. Nearly 100 bite marks covered the baby’s body. There were “numerous bites on [her] forehead, nose, cheeks, and around [her] eyes.” The most prominent injury was a three – to four – centimeter wound on her forehead where her flesh had been removed down to the layer just above her skull.
Her diaper contained rat droppings.
Doctors told police that the “severe skin destruction” the infant suffered had taken place over the course of several hours, noting the parents were either absent or incapacitated to have not heard the screams.
Searching the decrepit home, officers found the baby’s crib covered in bloody rat footprints.
Weeks in Jail, Parents Released
Both Shryock and Elliott received credit for the 293 days spent in jail awaiting trial. However, both people were released within weeks of sentencing thanks to the terms of the sentence. The judge ordered both people to stay away from children after their release from custody.
Shryock and Elliott each faced up to 20 years in prison if the case had gone to trial.
Both Shryock and Elliott admitted they knew the home had a problem with rats but did nothing to treat the issue.
Children Placed With State; Adopted
The infant required surgery to treat the injuries. After release from the hospital, the infant and its two siblings were placed in the custody of the state Department of Human Services. A loving couple later adopted the infant and children.
The Cordelia Street home where Shryock and Elliott lived was burned down by the city.
Shryock C*harged With As*sault
In 2019, Shryock was charged with aggravated a*ssault and several other cri*mes after an altercation with her new fiancee. The victim reportedly sustained stab wounds during an altercation with Shryock.
“Ms. Shryock said that she lived with Kenny Whiddon for about six months and that they were engaged to be married,” said a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office probable cause affidavit. “She said that Kenny was trying to keep her h*urting herself when she accid*entally c*ut him.”
Prosecutors considered revocating the original charges filed against Shryock since she was on probation at the time of her arrest. However, it is unclear whether or not that occurred. Shryock is currently not listed in an Arkansas Department of Corrections Inmate Search.
Elliott Petitions Court for Custody
After his release from jail, Elliott petitioned the court to reinstate his parental rights. The request was denied, however, the court ruled he was negligent in her care and not fit to parent or visit the child.