The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 2, 2012

Mother charged along with boyfriend in child-abuse case

Affidavit: Child’s injuries went unreported for several hours

The mother of an 18-month-old girl, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after an alleged assault by the mother’s boyfriend, has been charged with felony child endangerment and hindering prosecution.

The Newton County prosecutor’s office filed the charges late Thursday afternoon against Gina L. Salazar, 22. She had yet to be located and arrested by 7:30 p.m.

Salazar’s daughter, Ada Bowman, is listed as being in critical condition at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City with injuries allegedly suffered inside their home in the Bykota Mobile Home Park, southeast of the Joplin city limits on Route FF.

Emergency medical help was called to the home about 9 p.m. Tuesday. The girl was found to be in cardiac arrest and had to be revived before being taken to a hospital. The girl is reported to have suffered bleeding on both sides of her brain, as well as injuries to her liver, spleen and ribs.

The mother’s boyfriend, Bryant L. Sykes Jr., 24, was charged Thursday morning with first-degree assault. He is being held on a $250,000 bond.

The probable-cause affidavit filed with the charge alleges that Sykes admitted throwing the girl onto a bed in a manner that caused her to bounce and crash into a coffee table.

The affidavit states that Sykes became upset when Salazar’s three children got into some dog food and made a mess. He was making the older boy and girl, ages 3 and 2, help him clean up the mess when he grabbed the youngest child and slung her onto the bed, according to the court document.

The girl began “acting different” after that, and her stomach began to swell like “a sprained finger,” Sykes told detectives. He placed the time of the incident at 2 p.m. Tuesday, or about seven hours before medical help was first sought for the child. He also reportedly told investigators that Salazar knew her daughter was “acting different” before she went to the store that night.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges against the mother states that she told a detective who spoke to her at Freeman Hospital West, where her daughter was taken initially, that she left her three children in the care of a man named “Jay” when she went to the store. She said that when she returned, “Jay” told her that Ada had fallen from the kitchen table, and that she needed to call 911, according to the affidavit.

Salazar reportedly told the detective that “Jay,” who left the scene when emergency help arrived, lived in the trailer park, but she did not know in which trailer and she did not know his last name. The affidavit states that deputies spent time searching for “Jay” in an effort to question him about the child’s injuries and obtain any information that might help in her medical treatment, but they could not find him.

It was not until 2 a.m. Wednesday, the affidavit alleges, that Salazar admitted that the man in whose care she had left the child was named “Bryant,” although she claimed she had been living with him for only about three weeks and did not know his last name.

The affidavit alleges that she did not reveal Sykes’ full name and acknowledge that he had been living with her and the children for considerably longer than three weeks until about 20 hours after medical treatment of her daughter began.

Salazar’s two older children were removed from their mother’s care and placed in state protective custody, according to Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland.

The sheriff said Sykes is believed to have fled into some woods near the trailer court when emergency medical help and sheriff’s deputies first arrived at the home Tuesday night. After spending time looking for a man with another name and description, the sheriff’s office received a call Wednesday morning reporting that the actual boyfriend, Sykes, had returned to the trailer park.

When deputies went to the address, Sykes fled into the woods a second time, the sheriff said. He emerged less than two hours later and was arrested.

Sykes reportedly told investigators that when Salazar went to the store Tuesday night, he placed the girl on the kitchen table in front of an air conditioner to cool her off. He said he was fixing dinner at the time, and when he turned his back, she fell off the table, striking her chest against a chair and her head on the floor.

She turned unresponsive at that point, and Sykes attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation before yelling for neighbors to call 911, he told investigators.

Detective Mike Barnett, who wrote the affidavits, told the Globe that the mother is not suspected at this time of having been in the home when the girl suffered her initial injuries. He said she is believed to have been outside their home but in the trailer court.

Warrant information

THE NEWTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT has corrected information released Wednesday regarding a warrant issued in Arkansas for Bryant L. Sykes Jr. The warrant was issued in Boone County, Ark., on a charge of failure to appear on a charge of receiving stolen property, not child abuse as first reported.

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