MAGNOLIA, AR — Just before noon on Sunday, May 14, an emergency call to police by a nurse at the Magnolia Regional Medical Center reported a 15-day-old infant had arrived covered with rat bites, prompting officers to do an investigation into the matter.
When police arrived, they were horrified at what they saw — the infant's face, hands and fingers were covered with over 100 gruesome injuries caused by rats, including an open wound the size of one inch in diameter on the baby's forehead, exposing the skull — a "hole" as described in the police report.
The newborn's parents, 19-year-old Erica Shryock and 18-year-old Charles Elliott, arrived at the hospital with the baby's grandmother as well, Charles' mother. Police first talked to her, who said she received a phone call from Charles saying his baby had been "bitten by a mouse."
After the grandmother's testimony, police took the parents to the station to be questioned. Erica was questioned first, and she stated that she woke up to hearing screams at around 7:30 AM only to find the infant covered in blood.
Erica admitted that she knew there were rats in the home, and Charles admitted that he also knew there were rats in the home. However, both parents stated they had done nothing to solve the problem.
Both parents were arrested for 1st degree endangering the welfare of a minor and booked at the Columbia County jail. Police traveled to their home and were let inside by a roommate of the couple and discovered bloody rat footprints all over the inside of the baby's bassinet and blankets soaked in blood.
Detectives received note from a doctor who stated the amount of destruction to the baby's face would have taken hours for the rats to complete, the whole time causing excruciating pain. The doctor believed the parents were either "absent or incapacitated" to not respond to this immediate crisis.
The infant had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery due to the severe and prolonged biting by the rats.