Saturday, September 27, 2008

Uh Huh

This is how it goes. From the AP...

Woman brutally beaten for years; teens charged with battery of mentally disabled victim



Two male cousins of a mentally disabled East St. Louis woman the police said was brutalized for three years and unable to leave her home were charged Tuesday afternoon with aggravated battery.

Davion Cutler, 17, of 441 N. 22nd St., and a 16-year-old juvenile were charged with aggravated battery to a physically disabled person. The 34-year-old woman has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old, East St. Louis Detective Orlando Ward said.

"She was beaten with poles from a swing set, a broom, switches and an extension cord," he said.

The abuse was reported by the staff of a St. Louis Hospital on Sunday. The woman had suffered broken bones, was covered with sores and multiple bruises, and her right leg had to be amputated because it had turned gangrenous. She weighed less than 100 pounds.

"Her health is still poor, but she's improving every day," Ward said.

Cutler was being held Tuesday, with bail set at $50,000. The 16-year-old was being held at the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center, charged under the juvenile code.

Police were looking Tuesday for the suspects' 13-year-old sister. She is not considered a suspect; police said they want to question her.

Five children who were inside the North 22nd Street house were taken into the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. None of the children, whose ages range from 6 to 13, had ever attended school, Detective Michael Floore said.

Floore said within the next couple of days, police expect to seek charges against adults who lived at the house and knew the woman was being beaten regularly but did nothing to stop it. The woman's mother told police she had not seen her for several years.

"I call it bizarre and absolutely cruel, unacceptably cruel," Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. said. "I've never heard of anything like this in East St. Louis in my life."

The woman's aunt, Sandra Bender, died of a massive heart attack Sept. 18 at the house. Bender had told the teenagers, who are her sons, to beat the woman "because she had a bad heart and couldn't do (the beatings)" herself, Floore said.

"She didn't do a good job washing the dishes or cleaning up the kitchen," Ward said. Additionally, Sandra Culter believed the woman was poisoning her food and drink, and mixing her medicines, Ward said.

Sandra Bender's husband told police he was aware of the abuse. "When he tried to intervene, his wife turned against him and he had a bad heart himself, so he left it alone," Floore said.

Two of the five children found in the home are the victim's, and took no part in the beatings. The others were the children of her first cousin, Ward said.

Ward said the woman had not left the North 22nd Street house for at least two years. She told police the home had no telephone.

"She went out onto the porch, but she never said a word to anybody about what was going on or asked anyone what she could do," he said. "The victim said she was afraid to tell anyone because they had told her not to tell anyone."

It was unclear how she wound up at the hospital.

A neighbor, 54-year-old Myrtle Drake, said she often saw the children playing in the front yard or sitting on a stoop outside her house, never causing trouble. "They seemed happy," she said.

The case is eerily similar to one last year in Alton, where police say pregnant Dorothy Dixon died after weeks of torture inflicted by housemates.

Alton police say Dixon was banished to the basement, where she had a thin rug and mattress. Investigators say the woman, who was six months pregnant, was used for BB target practice, burned with a glue gun, beaten with bats and doused with scalding liquid.

Two adults, three teenagers and a 12-year-old boy were charged with murder and pleaded not guilty, though the status of their cases was not immediately available Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 239-2503.

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