Minnesota Pair Accused in 6-Year-Old’s Beating Death Allegedly Duct-Taped Him to Wall In Past
Justis Rae Burland was unresponsive upon arriving at a Minnesota hospital Monday morning
A Minnesota man and woman are accused of fatally beating a 6-year-old boy after duct-taping him to a wall.
PEOPLE confirms the Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office filed second-degree murder, manslaughter and malicious punishment of a child charges against Bobbie Christine Bishop, 40, and 44-year-old Walter Henry Wynhoff.
According to a statement from Fergus Falls police, the boy, Justis Rae Burland, was unresponsive and not breathing after arriving at a local hospital Monday morning.
“There is clear indication that the deceased had been a victim of neglect and abuse,” the statement alleges.
Both defendants are currently being held in the Otter Tail County Jail without bail. They have not entered pleas and have yet to retain lawyers.
Police allege that Justis’ legal guardian was his grandmother, but that he was sent to live with Bishop — described as a family friend — at the beginning of the year.
He was not enrolled in school, the statement says.
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After Justis got to the hospital, doctors unsuccessfully tried to revive him, the statement says.
Citing court records, several local media outlets report that Justis was beaten with “a strap or some type of restraint across his upper body” and that his face “was scabbed over and scared with multiple injuries in different phases of healing.”
According to MPR News, responding officers noted that Justis’ body was covered with marks, sores, cuts and scratches.
KVLY-TV reports the boy was brought in wearing a soiled and partially torn diaper.
Bobbie Christine Bishop and Walter Henry Wynhoff
The station also reports that, according to court records, medical officials told investigators it appeared some of Justis’ hair had been pulled out and that he’d been scalded. He was also suffering from a flesh-eating bacteria.
According to KVLY-TV, Bishop allegedly told police that on about 20 occasions over the previous month, she had asked Wynhoff to help restrain Justis with duct tape so she could hit him with a belt. She allegedly confessed that at one point, she knew she’d hit the boy too hard and that he needed medical attention, but she didn’t take him in because she “didn’t want them to take him away.”
Bishop allegedly told police that on the morning they brought Justis to the hospital, she witnessed Wynhoff returning from the boy’s room saying he’d slapped him, and that he’d “never been so mad at a child,” the station reports.
According to the station, Bishop allegedly told police that she then went into the boy’s room and found Justis groggy with slurred speech and a red mark on his face. She allegedly said she saw a broken stick next to the boy on the bed, and that Justis handed her a tooth.
But Wynhoff’s alleged account differed from Bishop’s, reports the outlet. According to the outlet, Wynhoff allegedly told police that he woke up Monday morning to Bishop’s screams because Justis wasn’t breathing, after which he drove them to the hospital.
Wynhoff said that the previous day, Justis had been in a “time out” for seven ours as punishment for wetting the bed, and that the boy fell asleep at 7:30 p.m.
The reports state that Justis previously lived in Washington state with his grandmother but was moved to Minnesota after she became homeless.