The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 24, 2012

Joplin women charged with starving 3-year-old girl

JOPLIN, Mo. — A mother who took her 3-year-old daughter to a Joplin hospital unconscious, barely breathing and weighing a mere 12 pounds is facing a felony child-endangerment charge.

The Jasper County prosecutor charged Beth A. Williams, 26, and her roommate, Christina M. Haidle, 27, with first-degree child endangerment on Monday after a three-week investigation by Joplin police.

Joplin police Cpl. Chuck Niess said the girl was unresponsive when Williams took her to the emergency room of Mercy Hospital the morning of July 1.

A probable-cause affidavit states that the child tested for “a blood sugar level of zero,” had a body temperature “too low to register” and exhibited “a pulse so faint” that cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts had to be initiated.

The child, described as emaciated and apparently suffering from malnutrition, weighed just 12 pounds, 9 ounces, the affidavit states. A doctor told police that critical care was necessary to prevent “life-threatening deterioration” of the girl’s condition because of “dehydration, sepsis, circulatory failure, shock and respiratory failure.”

The girl was intubated at the Joplin hospital and was flown by medical helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, where she was diagnosed as suffering from chronic malnutrition, according to the affidavit.

The girl gained three pounds in the first four days of hospitalization, and her doctor told police that he could find no other cause for her previous failure to thrive other than “nutritional deprivation.” The affidavit states that the girl had gained two more pounds in less than one week’s placement with a foster family.

Niess said Williams told investigators that she went to work on the afternoon of June 30 and got off about 10 p.m. She gave her boyfriend a ride to his house and then went home and checked on the girl, Niess said.

“She said the child was fine, and she went to sleep,” Niess said.

She told police that Haidle woke her up the next morning and asked her how the girl was. The mother checked on her daughter again at that time and found her to be unresponsive, according to the account she gave police.

Probable-cause affidavits state that Haidle has been residing with Williams and her child at 1407 S. Pennsylvania Ave. Haidle reportedly told investigators that she has been a second provider of care to the child.

Police arrested the two women over the weekend, but charges were not filed with the court until Monday.

High bonds

BOND HAS BEEN SET at $500,000 each for Beth Williams and her roommate, Christina Haidle.

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