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Friday, Aug 5, 2005County: Northampton
» Daniel Lee Gibbs
» Douglas Gibbs
» Mary Darling Gibbs
» Phyllis Kay Evans
Case Updates: 2 update(s) available
Four people are in jail accused of what Gaston authorities call one of the worst cases of child abuse they have ever seen. Authorities said a 4-year-old girl, who was allegedly locked in the attic of her home on Hill Street when she would not sleep, had her face rubbed in vomit and her head flushed in the toilet. The abuse came to light on Aug 5 when rescue workers were called to the home after investigators said she was force-fed food and choked.
Gaston Police Sgt. William Lucas was called to Halifax Regional Medical Center after nurses saw what they thought were signs of child abuse so bad that even the nurses treating the girl were crying. Lucas said the girl was bruised and scratched and had a bloody nose.
Gaston authorities believe a 4-year-old was locked in the attic of this house on Hill Street.
"There were tears in the nurses' eyes," Lucas said. "Ultimately, I had to catch my breath. The marks on her -- it was child abuse, visible child abuse. It was not a discipline situation. It was child abuse."
The girl's father, Daniel Gibbs, 32; his girlfriend, Phyliss Evans, 49; the child's uncle, Douglas Gibbs, 23; and her grandmother, Mary Gibbs, 59, are charged with felony child abuse. Police say more charges are pending. All are still in jail, each under $50,000 bond.
Gaston police said they suspect the abuse had been going on for months. The girl reportedly has scratches and bruises over her body and there is possible evidence of previous fractures. The child is now being examined for signs of sexual abuse at the TediBear Child Advocacy Center at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville.
Susan Harrison said the last time her daughter visited her that the little girl did not want to go back to her father's family.
The child's biological mother, Susan Harrison, did not live with the child, but had visitation rights. She said she learned about the alleged child abuse after reading the newspaper.
"To know those people, you wouldn't think about them abusing a 4-year-old baby," Harrison said.
Harrison said the last time her daughter visited her, the little girl did not want to go back to her father's family.
"This was my baby. There's no way to describe how I feel -- I feel numb," said Harrison. "I trusted my daughter around these people and they did this. It's not right -- not to any children. It's not right."
Harrison said she would now like to get back custody of her daughter.
According to Sgt. Lucas this was the most horrible and gruesome scene he has ever witnessed or been called to. Social Workers are being asked to explore the home's living conditions. Early reports indicate that the house was full of cats so neglected and starved, they were feeding on other dead animals in the home. Local news footage from WNVN reported a cat eating the leg off of another dead cat. All animals are described as being in bad condition.
|Since Monday's arrests, another mother has come forward saying her 2 1/2-year-old who visited the home may also have been abused. Authorities are investigating that claim.|
Besides the abuse, police say the family and dozens of pets lived in squalor not fit for humans or animals. Northampton Animal Control has removed cats and dogs from the home and is trying to place them.
|Source: WRAL - Aug 10, 2005|
Update posted on Aug 10, 2005 - 3:30PM
|Northampton County Animal Cruelty Investigator Karen Cole said she took away three dogs from the Gibbs house and is currently feeding cats at the residence.|
The dogs belong to Dwayne's youngest brother, Doug, who signed a form giving the animals to Cole. Doug is also charged in the case.
"Basically they were chained up and were not in a good atmosphere," she said.
The inside of the house was even worse, Cole said. "It was indescribable. There were cockroaches everywhere. I don't see how five people lived there, in inhumane conditions at all."
Cole said studies have shown that many times child abuse and animal abuse are linked.
"The cats are basically inbred," Cole said. "My understanding was Phyllis Evans (the girlfriend of Daniel Gibbs, who were both charged) was calling and getting kittens from the newspaper."
Cole had been working with Gaston Police Chief Randy Griffin for a year and a half on an ongoing problem a neighbor was having with the animals.
"They had gotten down on the cats. When I went there Saturday and saw all those cats, it surprised me because there had not been that many before."
The dogs, two Siberian huskies and a shitzu mix, will most likely be euthanized, Cole said.
Gaston Police Sgt. William Lucas said officers are trying to get an explanation as to why it happened. "According to them (other family members charged) the grandmother (Mary Gibbs) is the one. She wants to discipline in an old-fashioned way."
During their first appearance Monday, they were appointed attorneys and their bonds remained at $50,000 each.
Their next court appearance is set for Aug. 29.
Officers say more charges are pending and the child is going to be examined for any signs of sexual abuse. Lucas was expected to go to the TediBear Center today along with a female officer to try to talk with the child.
As Dwayne awaits to find out how the girl is doing and what it will take to get custody of her, the girl's mother, Susan Harrison is also trying to find an attorney to get custody of her.
Harrison lost custody of the child about three years ago but was allowed visitation every other week. She has not seen the child since December and thought something was wrong by the way the girl did not want to leave her.
"She was not very receptive about going back. You had to fight with the child to get her to go back there," she told the Daily Herald Monday afternoon.
|Source: Roanoke Daily News - August 10, 2005|
Update posted on Aug 10, 2005 - 12:28PM
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