exposing the dark side of adoption
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Parents Of 30-Pound 6-Year-Old Arrested On Abuse Charges

Injured Boy Gains 5 Pounds In 5 Days While In Hospital

DENVER -- A 6-year-old Jefferson County boy who weighed 30 pounds is recovering and his adoptive parents are set to be charged Thursday in connection with the boy's malnourishment and beating.

The boy's plight came to light on Sept. 17, when Littleton firefighters responded to a call in the 6500 block of South Reed Way. The paramedics were told a young boy had fallen down the stairs and was unresponsive.

Paramedics said they noticed the boy had numerous bruises that were in various stages, indicating they happened at different times. Paramedics said the boy's injuries weren't consistent with the mother's story that he fell down the stairs, and they requested a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy.

The boy was taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital and then transferred to Children's Hospital in Aurora.

Doctors at Children's said the boy suffered "severe malnutrition," weighed 30 pounds when he was admitted, had swelling on the brain and abrasions on his body, including u-shaped and v-shaped markings.

A search of the boy's home turned up a leather belt with a u-shaped buckle, consistent with the boy's bruises, the arrest warrant affidavit stated.

Read Arnold Arrest Affidavit

The boy's mother, identified in the affidavit as Christine Arnold, told investigators that she was cooking and her son was playing near the stairs when she heard a crash and found him at the bottom of the stairs.

The boy's father, Randal Arnold, said he didn't see any injuries on his son prior to seeing him in the hospital the day paramedics were called to the house.

Investigators said Randal Arnold's statement was at odds with a phone call he made to Columbine Hills Elementary School the day before, telling the school that his son had fallen out of bed and had "banged his head."

"Both parents reported that (the boy) was a difficult child and had a history of injuring himself," the affidavit stated. Randal called his son an "abnormal child."

Both parents told investigators that they never hurt the boy or struck him, according to the affidavit. They also said he was a difficult child and stole food from other children at school.

The parents told investigators that the boy stole food from other children at school and that they had to lock their son in his room at night because he would steal food from the kitchen at night, the affidavit said.

A Jefferson County social worker told investigators that the boy was measured and weighed before he was adopted. He weighed 31 pounds at age 3, and weighed only 30 pounds when the 6-year-old was admitted to Children's Hospital.

"Currently, weight in relation to his height measures below zero on the growth chart," the affidavit stated.

The hospital said the boy gained 5 pounds in five days while he was at the hospital.

During a subsequent interview, the boy told a forensic interviewer that he didn't have any toys except for the ones that were in the basement and he had to ask to play with them. The boy said he ate breakfast and dinner in the kitchen alone and that his parents ate at a different time.

Investigators examined the boy's room and described it as "relatively sparse," containing a bed with a top and bottom sheet, no blanket and no pillow, two dressers and some pictures on the wall. There was a sliding chain lock on the outside of the door to the boy's room, according to the affidavit.

The Arnolds were arrested on Friday on suspicion of child abuse causing serious bodily injury and cruelty toward a child knowingly or recklessly causing injury, according to state arrest records. They were held without bond over the weekend.

The couple made their first court appearance Monday, where their bond was set at $25,000 each and they bonded out. They are scheduled to be formally charged on Thursday, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.

2010 Sep 29