FREDERIKSTED — A St. Croix man has been charged with attempted murder for brutally assaulting a child, and police say he and the child’s mother tried to hide the life-threatening injuries from investigators by leaving the child alone in a Frederiksted home for nearly a week.
The child — whose name, age, and gender has not been made public — suffered such severe physical abuse and torture that they were left with “bleeding in the brain, kidney failure,” and a ruptured lung, court records indicate.
An officer “observed bruises and abrasions to the minor’s entire face, shoulders, back, both hands, legs, and entire buttocks.”
The child’s mother, Linda Williams, 33, of Mount Pleasant, was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect, child abuse, neglect, misprision of a felony, and accessory after the fact, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.
Williams’s boyfriend, Kenyata Horsford, 44, of Estate Cane, is facing more severe charges: first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, aggravated child abuse and neglect, child abuse, neglect, mayhem, possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, third-degree assault, and false imprisonment and kidnapping. according to the VIPD.
Officers initially responded Thursday to a report of a missing child, but “it was disclosed to me that a concerned citizen notified the Department of Human Services that a minor was seen vomiting and had bruises about her/his body,” according to the affidavit filed by police. Officers made contact with the missing child’s mother, Williams, who said her child “is in good health without injuries.”
As proof, Williams presented investigators with a healthy child.
But further investigation by police and Human Services staff “indicated that Ms. Williams brought another minor child, posing as her minor child,” according to police. When police informed Williams that they were going to remove the child from her custody, “she stated that the child was not hers,” and directed investigators to search for her child in several locations.
Unable to find the missing child, officers instructed Williams and Horsford to go to the police station where they were detained for further questioning.
At the station, Williams relented and directed police to a home in Estate Cane, Frederiksted.
There, officers found the child alone.
“I immediately noticed bruises to the minor’s face and the minor was struggling to walk,” an officer wrote.
Police brought the child to Luis Hospital for medical treatment, where the child began telling police what had happened over the previous six days.
The child said that on Friday, March 12, they were left alone in Horsford’s home, which did not have a toilet or running water, according to the affidavit.
When Horsford returned and found that the child had urinated in a bucket, Horsford “tied the minor’s hand and hanged the minor over the door and beat the minor with a belt buckle and extension cord,” according to the affidavit.
The child said they vomited every time they tried to eat, and the only thing that stayed down, sometimes, was water, according to the affidavit.
The child said their mother was aware of Horsford’s abuse, and it was not the first time they had been beaten by Horsford.
Finishing their recounting, the child told police they were in “severe pain,” according to the affidavit.
Officers interviewed another child that had been living with Williams, who also said that Horsford had beaten the victim on March 12. The child said Horsford’s punishment came because the victim had taken an item out of Williams’s bedroom without her permission.
In an interview with police, Williams said that she and her children had stayed at Horsford’s home on March 12, and Horsford took one of the children to another house on the property and “was punishing the minor by making the minor stand in front of a wall inside of the residence.”
Williams told police she did not see her child on Saturday, March 13, “however, she indicated that she spoke to a police officer in the area who asked her if she heard a minor child screaming for help,” according to the affidavit. “At that point, she attempted to check on the minor, but the door to the house was locked and Mr. Horsford told her that she couldn’t see the minor.”
Williams told police she didn’t see her child until the following evening.
She saw bruises on the child’s face and buttocks and “blood in the residence,” and she gave the child Motrin because the child “was in pain and had a high fever,” according to the affidavit. “She also mentioned that during this week, the minor was beaten again by Mr. Horsford with a whip. She concluded by saying she did not seek any medical assistance for her minor child.”
Police also interviewed Horsford, who “denied all accusations in this matter.”
UPDATE: The child’s injuries were so severe that the minor was airlifted off-island for further medical treatment on March 19, VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said.
Bail for Horsford was set at $75,000 and bail for Williams was set at $60,000. Unable to post bail, they were remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections, pending their advice-of-rights hearings.
All individuals listed as arrested or charged with a crime in this report are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.