Mother jailed on felony child-abuse charge

Relates to:
Date: 2010-04-10
Source: News Observer

BY THOMASI MCDONALD - Staff Writer
APEX -- Police have charged an Apex woman with felony child abuse after her 3-year-old adopted son was hospitalized with severe head injuries.

Apex police charged Michele Andi Stein, 39, of 121 Homegate Circle with one count of felony child abuse, severe bodily injury, according to an arrest warrant filed this week.

Apex investigators have accused Stein of assaulting her son Adam so severely March 19 that he is in a coma at Duke University Hospital. The child has a fractured skull and large bruises on the frontal region of his brain, police reported.

In a court affidavit made public earlier this month, police said that Stein and her husband adopted Adam from an orphanage in China in November.

Police began investigating the Steins when a Duke physician reported that the child's head trauma was inconsistent with his parents' account of how he was injured, court records show. Stein told medical workers that the child had fallen down stairs on March 19 while her husband was at work. She said she thought he was okay and put him down for a nap.

Records also show Wake County Child Protective Services has previously investigated abuse and neglect reports concerning the child. Adam had been admitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill Burn Center in January with second- and third-degree burns to both hands.

Michele Stein told authorities that she had turned on hot water in the bathtub to give Adam a bath and had left him briefly unattended while she went to get him clean pajamas. Investigators with the county's child protective services suspected abuse, but determined the incident to be more consistent with "poor supervision and neglect," police reported.

In February, workers at the day care Adam attends noticed bruises on his back and leg. They also noticed that the child had lost weight since enrolling.

Michele Stein is in the Wake County jail in lieu of $200,000 bail, a jail spokesman said Friday.

thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4533

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