Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Mother guilty of kidnapping, endangering
Tot found alone in playpen; 5-year-old in filthy closet

Beverly Fears admitted Monday she often kept two of her children in a closet and playpen overnight so she could go to work. It wasn't the first time she's been in trouble for not caring for her kids.

Fears, 26, pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and three counts of child endangering involving her two middle children, ages 5 and 20 months at the time of her March 28, 2007, arrest.

Earlier, Fears had her oldest child, a son then 5 years old, taken from her when she tried to stop the child from sucking his thumbs by tightly wrapping them.

The tight wrapping was kept on so long that both of the child's thumbs were amputated at the joint in January 2004.

"We did have these kids (the oldest two) at an earlier date and substantiated abuse on the thumb issue," Hamilton County Department of Job & Family Services spokesman Brian Gregg said Monday.

A social worker at the hospital told family services the thumb incident wasn't one of Fears purposely hurting her child, so she didn't lose custody.

Fears had a history of contacting family services saying she couldn't care for her kids or asking for more money, but had no history of abusing her children, Gregg said.

"Given what (ultimately) happened, we probably made the wrong decision here," Gregg said.

That bad decision came to light last year when residents of the North Avondale apartment building where Fears lived called police to complain about loud noises coming from her apartment late at night when the neighbor knew Fears was supposed to be at work.

Police responded and had had to force their way in because Fears had changed the locks.

Once inside, police found the 20-month-old boy clad only in a dirty diaper in a small, portable playpen. He suffered from a severe rash because his diaper was rarely changed. Inside the playpen was a hot dog and ketchup.

Prosecutors have said the children regularly were denied food.

Police then heard sounds coming from a closet - sealed shut with a knife rammed into the doorjamb.

When they opened they door, they found the 5-year-old son.

"He did have ligature marks on his wrists and other marks on his body," Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger said Monday.

That was proof, Tieger said, that Fears regularly tied the boy's hands when she kept him in the closet.

That child was wearing only underwear and the closet was filthy with his feces and urine.

The child - whose yells neighbors heard, prompting them to call police - was so desperate to get out of the closet, Tieger said, that he'd managed to pull up several of the closet floor boards.

The neighbor who called police said she heard the 5-year-old screaming, "Why do she keep doing this to me?"

The oldest boy was living with his grandfather.

Police arrested Fears at 5 a.m. the next day at her West Chester job, where she was a customer service worker for Dell computers.

Fears was pregnant at the time of her arrest. She has since given birth. Those three children, as well as the oldest boy, have been taken from her by the county.

She faces three to 31 years in prison when she is sentenced July 1. A mental evaluation will be done before sentencing.

In exchange for her guilty plea on the four counts, six other charges were dropped.

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