Parents Charged with Murder After 4-Year-Old Son Dies from Alleged 'Exorcisms'

Joseph and Jodi Wilson, both of Mount Airy, N.C., were arrested after their 4-year-old son died from a brain injury related to alleged abuse at their hands

Joseph and Jodi Wilson, North Carolina Parents Abused 4-Year-Old Son
Joseph (left) and Jodi Wilson. Photo: Surry County Sheriffs Office/Facebook(2)

A couple from North Carolina have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the death of their adopted toddler son who died after an alleged series of "exorcisms," according to multiple news outlets.

Joseph Wilson, 41, and Jodi Wilson, 38, both of Mount Airy, were taken into custody on Jan. 13 and are being held at the Surry County Detention Center under no bond, the Surry County Sheriff's Office said in a press release.

"This is a tragic event that resulted in the death of a precious child way too soon," Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt said in the press release. "Please remember the other siblings involved in this situation as well as the investigators who worked tirelessly on this case in your thoughts and prayers."

The arrests stemmed from an investigation into the Jan. 9 death of their adopted son, 4-year-old Skyler Wilson, who authorities believe died from injuries related to abuse at the hands of his parents.

According to Mount Airy News, the pair has two biological children and are foster parents to two other children. The children in their care were turned over to the Department of Social Services, the sheriff's office said.

Skyler was pronounced dead at Brenner's Children Hospital after suffering from a medical emergency on Jan. 5, authorities said. His death was caused by hypoxic brain injury due to "too much restriction," during a "swaddling" technique, and his manner of death was homicide, according to warrants reviewed by Fox 8.

Earlier that day, Joseph allegedly received a text from Jodi in which she stated that she was having difficulty swaddling Skyler, the documents state, per the outlet. She allegedly also sent a photo of the boy, "wrapped in a sheet or a blanket face-down on the Wilsons' living room floor with duct tape attaching him to the floor."

When Joseph called 911 to report that Skyler was having a seizure, a detective reportedly heard a woman in the background of the call say, "It's my fault," according to the warrants also obtained by WFMY.

A former foster parent of Skyler and his brother told investigators that about a month prior to Skyler's death, she filed a report with the Department of Social Services after being concerned for the children's wellbeing, WFMY reports, citing the warrants.

She claimed Jodi told her about allegedly restricting the boys' food, isolating them, and performing "exorcisms," per WFMY. It is unclear whether or not the children were ever removed from the home, or what authorities meant by exorcisms.

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After the couple's arrest, a search of their home reportedly turned up wrist and ankle restraints, along with cameras that apparently recorded prior abuse, multiple reports say.

The straps were allegedly used to restrain Skyler during a "swaddling" technique Jodi learned from Nancy Thomas, who describes herself as "professional therapeutic parent," the documents state, according to Fox8.

Joseph and Jodi Wilson's next court date has been set for Feb. 2. It is unclear they have entered pleas or retained an attorney to speak on their behalf.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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