Crime & Courts

Prosecutor says Newton toddler was covered with injuries

NORTH NEWTON — At a news conference Wednesday, Harvey County Attorney David Yoder did not gloss over the injuries suffered by 19-month-old Vincent Hill, who died Saturday afternoon.

As the prosecutor, Yoder has the job of studying photos of the injuries to help determine the charges.

Reflecting on it later Wednesday, Yoder said: "You're stunned. You can't believe what you are seeing" — the worst injuries he has seen on a child in decades as a prosecutor.

During the briefing — which included the announcement that Vincent's 20-year-old mother and her 26-year-old boyfriend have been charged with beating, abusing or endangering him — Yoder said there were "very few parts on this child's body that were not injured in some grievous way."

Among the injuries were "terrible cuts" on the inside of the boy's mouth, fingernails that had been ripped out, a leg that was twisted in an "unnatural position" from a spiral fracture, a broken collarbone and an eye swollen shut.

He said it was difficult for him to speak of the injuries at the briefing.

"This is something that is not possible to talk about without getting emotional, if you care at all about children,'' he said.

Evidence shows that the injuries "didn't just start recently," Yoder said.

Couple's charges

Vincent's mother, Katheryn Nycole Dale, 20, has been charged with four counts: two counts of felony endangerment of a child, one count of felony abuse of a child and one count of aggravated battery, Yoder said.

According to a copy of the abuse charge against her, among her son's injuries were: "stabbed with a fork and cut mouth, bruises to chin, struck across face."

Three of the charges against the mother were in connection with alleged crimes on March 25 and one charge — aggravated endangering a child — was in connection with an alleged crime Saturday, the day Vincent was pronounced dead at Newton Medical Center, according to a copy of the charges.

Dale and her two small children, including a 6-week-old daughter who has been placed in state custody pending an emergency hearing, had been renting a two-story duplex in North Newton.

She was with her infant daughter at a baby shower in Wichita on Saturday afternoon when her boyfriend, Chad Daniel Carr, called 911 to report that Vincent was not breathing, authorities said.

The couple had lived together about four months and did not have children together, authorities said.

Carr, 26, has been charged with two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of child abuse. One of the crimes occurred Thursday, and three of the crimes occurred Saturday, the charges state.

One of the battery charges accuses Carr of breaking Vincent's left collar bone on Saturday. The other battery charge accuses him of causing the spiral fracture of the boy's right lower leg that same day.

Yoder said more charges are possible, pending final results from an autopsy and information from medical experts on timeframes for the injuries.

Both Dale and Carr are being held in the Harvey County Jail: her on a $50,000 bond, him on a $150,000 bond, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said.

Dale is unemployed, according to a sheriff's document.

According to a financial affidavit that Carr filled out for the court, he has been employed by a concrete business, making about $1,600 a month. He listed monthly expenses of nearly that much, including $500 in child support for a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old son.

Dale's attorney, Greg Barker, declined to comment. Carr's attorney couldn't be reached for comment.

More details on report

At the briefing for reporters, Walton provided more details about a neighbor who made a report to a toll-free state child-abuse call center, telling them she heard a man next door yelling at the child and the child screaming in a way that told her something was wrong.

The neighbor made the report Jan. 20, but the report went no further than the call center, which was in either Topeka or Wichita. As a result, neither local law enforcement agencies nor the local office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) knew of the neighbor's concerns, Walton said.

Within a day or so of getting the report, the SRS call center decided no further action was needed because it found no indication of physical or emotional harm, Walton said.

No one from SRS went to the home, he said.

If the local SRS office had been notified of the neighbor's report, "they probably would have notified us" because the local SRS office and local law enforcement agencies have a good working relationship, Walton said. Yoder agreed.

Walton told The Eagle on Tuesday and repeated Wednesday that he wished local police had been told about the report because it would have prompted an officer to knock on the door of the duplex to check on any children there. It would have put anyone who might harm a child on notice that police had some suspicion, he said.

A check on the child might have led officers to take the child into protective custody, North Newton Police Chief Ray Classen said.

Classen described North Newton, which sits just north of the city of Newton, as "a very quiet little town of mostly retired people."

A crime of "this magnitude" is shocking to the residents, especially because the victim is a child, he said.

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