Doctors told police the rats likely fed on the infant for several hours

By Chris Harris
May 17, 2017 12:53 PM

Authorities in Arkansas say a 15-day-old baby had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery on Sunday after sustaining at least 100 rat bites, triggering child endangerment charges against the child’s parents, who police allege were aware of a rodent problem in their home but did nothing to address it.

PEOPLE obtained a statement from prosecutors confirming the arrests of Charles Elliot, 18, and Erica Shryock, 19, who are both charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor.

Both parents are being held on unspecified bail amounts, and neither has entered a plea. PEOPLE could not determine if either defendant has an attorney.

According to investigators, police were called to a hospital in Magnolia where a child was receiving treatment for “severe” rat bites. The statement says medical personnel counted at least 100 bites on the 5-pound baby’s arms, hands, and face.

Credit: Columbia County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Detectives say the baby’s skull was visible through a wound on the forehead. Police are withholding the child’s sex.

Under questioning, Shryock allegedly told police the child’s crying woke her up at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday. The statement says she went to feed the baby and found the child covered in blood.

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Elliot allegedly told investigators he’d awakened to the child’s cries earlier, and when he checked on the newborn, he noticed bloody rat footprints in the baby’s crib.

Both parents allegedly acknowledged knowing about the rodent infestation but told police they did nothing to abate the problem.

The statement alleges Elliot told officers the young parents delayed seeking medical care for their child, fearing they would lose the baby.

Investigators visited their home and found bloody rodent footprints as well as rat droppings.

The statement says doctors told police the rats likely fed on the child for several hours.

PEOPLE was unable to reach the baby’s grandparents Wednesday.