2 charged in abuse of 9-year-old boy
Warrants issued, but no arrests; child left amid filth
By Jeff Wiehe
Multiple times the boy told teachers he had been tied up “like Jesus on the cross” and beaten.
When people looked, he had the marks on his wrists and ankles to prove it.
He was routinely locked in his room that overwhelmingly smelled of urine and feces because no one would let him out.
Once, he somehow suffered either frostbite or chemical burns to his hand that were so severe part of his finger was removed.
Doctors did not believe it could’ve happened accidentally.
Now, two people have been charged in the neglect and abuse of the boy, a 9-year-old who possibly suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.
As of Friday evening, 46-year-old Lee M. Rager and 34-year-old Diana J. Haley have not been arrested. And it’s unclear whether the boy had ever been taken out of their care.
A DCS spokeswoman said that per the law, all she could release was that the agency had indeed had contact with the family at some point.
The timeline of events leading up to charges being brought against Rager and Haley, who live in the 11300 block of Twin Creeks Drive, is fuzzy – at best.
So, too, is how they came to care for the boy and their exact relationship with him – according to court documents, the boy’s biological parents are unknown.
Rager was formally charged by Allen County prosecutors on Thursday with neglect of a dependent, accused of knowingly putting the boy in danger.
Haley was formally charged Friday with battery, criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent, accused of doing much of the physical abuse to the boy: using a belt on his body and head, tying him to a bed, locking him in his room – all of which are outlined in Allen Superior Court documents.
A teacher at Hickory Creek Center Elementary school told police recently that she was the boy’s teacher from August 2011 through February 2012.
The boy confided in her about the abuse, she said in court documents, and she reported it to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Rager and Haley then pulled the boy from the school.
It’s unclear whether DCS stepped in after that first report, but the boy then ended up in the Timothy L. Johnson Academy.
There, staff members heard similar stories from the boy, according to court documents, and they too said they called DCS.
And once again, the boy was pulled from school.
An Allen County Sheriff’s detective became involved in the case Oct. 18, 2012, when he received a report from DCS that had come in through the agency’s hotline, court documents said.
The report made to the hotline came Oct. 11, 2012, the same day the boy ended up in a local emergency room.
Haley took the boy there with several wounds that day, according to court documents.
There were abrasions on his wrists and there were wounds on his legs as well. The boy told doctors he caused the wounds himself, court documents said.
Doctors and medical staff did not believe the boy’s claim, court documents said.
It was not the first time the boy had ended up in the hospital. Aug. 31, 2012 was one of several visits he made there. During that visit, he showed up with a “questionable chemical versus thermal burn versus cold exposure burn” to his hand.
Haley told doctors a brick fell on the boy’s hand and she put an icepack on it to help it heal. The boy, she said, fell asleep with the icepack on his skin. The boy’s fingers were disfigured from the burn, and doctors did not buy Haley’s story.
A DCS caseworker did meet with the boy, but it’s unclear when.
In court documents, the boy told this caseworker about the beatings and the caseworker was even shown his room.
Inside the room were a pair of broken handcuffs, a small nail, a pocket knife and two steak knives, court documents said.
It is not mentioned in court documents what happened after this caseworker’s visit.
There are active warrants for Rager’s and Haley’s arrest, which call for them to be booked into Allen County Jail on bonds of $10,000 for Rager and $22,500 for Haley.