The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 1, 2012

Abuse suspected in critical injuries to 1-year-old girl

JOPLIN, Mo. — A mother returning from a trip to the store Tuesday night was met by a panicking boyfriend in whose care she had left her three small children, according to Newton County authorities.

Her 1-year-old daughter wasn’t breathing, he reportedly told her.

A call was placed about 9 p.m. for help at their home in the Bykota Mobile Home Park, outside the Joplin city limits on Route FF. When emergency medical technicians and sheriff’s deputies arrived, the boyfriend was no longer there, Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said.

The child had indeed stopped breathing and was in cardiac arrest, the sheriff said. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated, and once she was revived, the girl was taken by ambulance to Freeman Hospital West. She later was flown by medical helicopter to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where she remained in critical condition Wednesday.

Copeland said the mother reported that she had been gone about 15 minutes and returned home to find her boyfriend screaming at her that her daughter was hurt.

“He advised her that he had set the baby on the kitchen table and apparently she had rolled off the table,” Copeland said.

He said doctors at the hospital in Joplin told investigators that the girl showed bleeding on both sides of her brain and had suffered lacerations to her liver and spleen. The doctors believed a fall from a table could not account for the severity of her injuries, the sheriff said.

The girl, who developmentally had learned to crawl but had not yet learned to walk, has two siblings, ages 3 and 4, who were removed from the home and placed in the protective custody of the state while the case remains under investigation, the sheriff said.

Deputies were unable to locate the boyfriend until about 9 a.m. Wednesday, when they received a call that he had returned to the trailer park. He ran into some nearby woods as deputies arrived at the location a second time, but he came out and gave himself up less than two hours later, the sheriff said.

Bryant L. Sykes Jr., 24, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, but no charge had been filed against him by the time the Newton County Courthouse closed for the day. He remained in custody at the Newton County Jail on a 24-hour hold and on an outstanding warrant issued in a child-abuse case in Arkansas.

Copeland said Sykes apparently has been living with the woman and her three children off and on in recent weeks.

Arkansas case

Sheriff Ken Copeland said that as of Wednesday, he had not received details about the child-abuse case pending against Bryant Sykes Jr. in Arkansas.

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