The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 3, 2012

Mother of injured tot still at large

Court order prevents her from seeing child in hospital

JOPLIN, Mo. — The mother of a critically injured 18-month-old girl has yet to be arrested on charges that she endangered the life of her daughter and hindered efforts to locate the girl’s alleged abuser.

Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland on Friday said that Gina L. Salazar, 22, is believed to be in Kansas City, where her daughter, Ada Bowman, remains in critical condition at Children’s Mercy Hospital. A judge has ordered that she is not to be allowed in to see the child at the hospital, the sheriff said.

“We’ve been talking to her (by phone),” Copeland said. “She’s aware that charges have been filed, and she’s agreed to come turn herself in.”

But he did not know when Salazar planned to turn herself in, he said.

Her boyfriend, Bryant L. Sykes Jr., 24, remains in jail on charges of first-degree assault. He is suspected of having caused the girl’s injuries on Tuesday while she and her brother and sister, ages 3 and 2, were left in his care at their home in the Bykota Mobile Home Park outside Joplin.

Salazar was charged with felony child endangerment and hindering prosecution after being accused of misleading sheriff’s deputies as to the identity of the man in whose care she’d left her children the day the girl was abused. A court document alleges that she did not fully identify the man as her boyfriend, Sykes, until after he’d been located and arrested.

Salazar subsequently admitted that she “just didn’t want to get anyone in trouble,” according to a probable-cause affidavit. Authorities allege that her reluctance to implicate Sykes cost investigators valuable time in obtaining information about the girl’s injuries that might have been of benefit to the medical staff that was trying to treat her.

Affidavit

A probable-cause affidavit states that Sykes admitted throwing the child onto a bed in a manner that caused her to bounce and crash into a table. The girl reportedly suffered bleeding on both sides of her brain as well as injuries to her liver, spleen and ribs. Her two siblings were removed from the mother’s care and placed in protective custody early in the investigation.

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