AUBURN, Ala. (TCD) — Police arrested a licensed counselor and her husband, a registered nurse, last week after their 6-year-old malnourished son died.
On June 14, officials from the Auburn Police Department, Auburn Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Service personnel responded to a home on the 2200 block of Core Drive, where they found a child, identified as Sullivan Watford by WRBL-TV, unresponsive and not breathing.
Medical personnel began lifesaving measures before transporting the boy to East Alabama Health, where attending physicians pronounced him dead.
Upon further investigation, police learned of “suspicious circumstances” surrounding Sullivan’s death and collected evidence that signaled a possible drowning.
According to police, the victim weighed around 21 pounds and appeared to be “extremely malnourished” at the time of his death. Due to his low weight, authorities reportedly believe the victim was not able to walk or sit up on his own. Investigators believe the boy also suffered “prolonged willful abuse and maltreatment.”
WRBL reports the victim’s mother, Kelly Watford, reportedly told officials she gave her son vapor rub to treat his cough, but she had never used that kind before. Watford allegedly said she was bathing her son when he went unconscious, and he must have died from an allergic reaction.
However, according to WRBL, an autopsy showed the child drowned, and investigators noticed fluid on the top of his nasal cavity and in his lungs.
Police took his parents, Mark and Kelly Watford, into custody. Kelly Watford was arrested on a charge of felony murder, while Mark Watford was charged with aggravated child abuse. Mark Watford’s bond was set at $30,000, and Kelly Watford remains held without bond.
At a hearing held Wednesday, June 21, Judge Russell Bush saw pictures of the victim taken by Auburn police and reportedly said they were “like nothing he has ever seen outside of Holocaust documentaries.”
According to WRBL, the parents allegedly homeschooled their seven children, and the victim had never seen a pediatrician.