Autopsy reveals child was tied

Date: 2006-03-04

Autopsy reveals child was tied

Police say mother was punishing son

Mandy Locke
Staff Writer

Sean Paddock, a 4-year-old adopted by a Johnston County family last summer, suffocated to death Sunday after being tightly bound, the state medical examiner said in a preliminary autopsy report released Friday.

Sean's adoptive mother, Lynn Paddock, 45, faces a murder charge and is accused of wrapping Sean in blankets so snugly that he lost consciousness. The binding was a form of punishment and had occurred several times in the week leading to his death, said Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell.

"This is the most extreme case of torture of a child I have ever seen," Bizzell said. "There's no excuse or explanation for this."

District Attorney Tom Lock said he will consider whether to indict Paddock for first-degree murder, using torture as a reason for pursuing the toughest homicide charge. If convicted of first-degree murder, Paddock could be executed or would spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance of being freed.

Sean also had been hit with a plastic plumbing pipe, Lock said. John Butts, the state's chief medical examiner, found bruises covering Sean's back and buttocks, but Butts concluded that those injuries did not kill him.

Sean's 8-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother told detectives Sunday that Lynn Paddock punished them by lashing them with a PVC pipe. The 9-year-old boy was beaten so badly he limped, a prosecutor said this week.

Paddock also is charged with two counts of felony child abuse in their beatings. Those children, along with two other adopted children, were put in foster care. Another adopted child and the 18-year-old daughter of Johnny Paddock, Lynn's husband, returned home with him after Sean's death.

Lock said his office will consider bringing charges against Johnny Paddock once prosecutors review an investigator's report.

Lynn and Johnny Paddock adopted Sean and his siblings in July 2005, seven months after their Wake County foster mother first raised concerns that the Paddocks inappropriately disciplined the children. Sean returned from a pre-adoption visit in January 2005 with bruises on his backside.

Lynn Paddock told Johnston County social workers that the boy fell from a bunk bed. The foster mother did not believe her and called a Wake County social worker.

Wake County Child Protective Services asked Johnston County social workers to check on the Paddocks' other children and interview the couple. They didn't find anything awry.

Staff writer Mandy Locke can be reached at 829-8927 or mandy.locke@newsobserver.com.
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