PARENTS CHARGED IN SCALDING DEATH OF 3-YEAR-OLD; Adopted Russian boy burned in bath water

Date: 2003-10-17

Author: Alayna DeMartini

A Far West Side couple who adopted two children from Russia in the spring were in jail last night, accused of not seeking medical attention for one of them scalded by bath water.

Liam Thompson was pronounced dead about 7:30 a.m. yesterday -- his third birthday and five days after he suffered first- and second-degree burns at his home on Navion Court, police said.

His parents, Gary A. and Amy L. Thompson, were arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangering, both felonies.

They were being held last night in the Franklin County jail. They were scheduled for a hearing on the charges this morning in Municipal Court.

Neither Mr. Thompson, 31, nor Mrs. Thompson, 33, who is a licensed practical nurse, sought medical treatment for the child until they called the Fire Division to their home yesterday morning, police said. The couple had applied petroleum jelly to his wounds.

The thermostat on the water heater was set too high Saturday when Mr. Thompson filled the bathtub and placed Liam in it without checking the water temperature, Columbus police detective Pat Dorn said.

Mr. Thompson said he went to check on his three other children but returned to the bathtub after hearing Liam screaming, Dorn said. Police do not know how long the child was left in the water.

The boy suffered first- and second-degree burns on 20 percent of his body, an autopsy revealed yesterday. Such injuries might not kill an adult, but the impact on a small child is much greater, Franklin County Coroner Brad Lewis said.

Dorn said he didn't know why the Thompsons didn't take Liam to the hospital. "You explain it to me," Dorn said.

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson called the Fire Division after finding Liam unresponsive, Dorn said.

"They could tell something was drastically wrong with the baby," he said.

Franklin County Children Services is investigating. The Thompsons' other three children -- a 3-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl and a 3-year-old girl, who is the other adopted child -- were placed with relatives by social workers.

Next-door neighbor Barbara Azusenis found out about Liam's death just after the emergency medical crew left the neighborhood. "I wanted to throw up," she said.

A mother of three, Azusenis recalled when the Thompsons stopped by last spring before they left for Russia to adopt Liam and the girl. The couple had shown Azusenis a video of Liam and the girl they were about to adopt.

"They were excited," Azusenis said.

Mr. Thompson works for a credit union; his wife works at a nursing home on the weekends and stays at home with the children during the week, police said.

Liam's death is the city's 91st homicide of the year.

ademartini@dispatch.com

Caption:
Amy L. and Gary A. Thompson face charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering, both felonies.

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