BATTLE CREEK, MICH. - A 4-year-old boy was beaten, denied food, and locked in a closet coated with his feces and urine, witnesses testified Tuesday in a child abuse case.
Battle Creek police feared Maloyd Gaines might die from the neglect and abuse after he was taken for medical treatment to Bronson Battle Creek on March 22 by his mother, Megan Schug, 23.
She is charged with second-degree child abuse and appeared Tuesday in Calhoun County District Court for a preliminary examination before Judge James Norlander.
Schug's live-in boyfriend, Issac "Mike" Miller, 35, also is charged and his preliminary examination is scheduled June 15.
Assistant Prosecutor Tamara Towns said she expects to seek new charges of first-degree child abuse in the case based on testimony.
Michael Zaleski, a case worker for Child Protective Services, and Battle Creek Police Department Detective Ryan Strunk testified about injuries to the boy, the conditions of the home on East Emmett Street and statements made by Schug.
"He was very thin to the point he was very sickly," said Zaleski, who was called to the hospital that evening.
"He had abrasions and cuts and rashes all over his body," Zaleski said. "His toes were blackened and swollen and his hands also were swollen."
Zaleski told the judge he went to the home that night, where Schug, Miller and four children were living, and found a small couch, small TV and small TV stand in the living room but no other furniture in the house. There were no beds, little food, and only clothes and trash strewn about.
On the second floor, Zaleski found a strong smell of human waste.
Detective Ryan Strunk said he found the same conditions and later learned from Schug about the treatment of her son.
She had told Zaleski she didn't know how her son was injured.
But during interviews with Strunk in March and May, Schug told him that as punishment, her son was first locked in a closet in the bathroom for an hour or two after they moved into the house in December and then routinely every night.
"At nighttime, they would lock him in the closet and sometime in the morning open the closet," Strunk said. He found a latch on the outside of the closet door, which was too high for the children to reach.
As punishment, Schug told Strunk, the children were forced to hold a wooden crate but when Maloyd refused he was beaten everywhere but his head with one of the wood slates from the crate.
As Schug sat at the defense table crying, Strunk said Schug also told him during a May interview that:
- Food was withheld from the boy sometimes much of one day and sometimes for a day or two.
- The boy was forced by Miller to fight with his older sister who pulled his hair. Police said when the child was admitted to the hospital much of his hair was missing.
- He was forced to defecate and urinate in his clothes and later placed in diapers, which were not changed for days.
- She was only allowed to bathe the boy when Miller was present but he rarely was and so baths were infrequent.
- They put petroleum jelly as treatment on some of the boy's wounds.
- Miller treated Schug's two older children — Maloyd and his sister — badly because they were fathered by another man. The two younger children, one fathered by Miller and the second born after Miller moved in with Schug, were treated as his own and much better.
- The boy was taken to the hospital because "he was unable to stay awake and she believed he was in extreme danger," Strunk said he was told.
Schug also told the detective she didn't try to stop the abuse and never called police. She was afraid of Miller, who had punched her and hit her in the head with a broom handle, she told Strunk.
A doctor is expected to testify about injuries to the boy, who is now recovering, when testimony resumes in the hearing on June 29.
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