A 10-year-old Texas boy died of dehydration after his father and stepmother denied him water over a period of five days as a punishment for wetting bed, Texas police said on Friday.
Initially police thought the reason of Johnathan James death could have been of heat-related, but documents from Dallas County medical examiner shows that the boy suffered while he was denied drinking water for five days. The boy died on July 25 and his parents Michael James and Tina Alberson, both 42, were arrested on Thursday, Aug. 25.
Jonathan’s grandmother Sue Shotwell, said in an interview with Dallas News on Friday that Jonathan had called her in late June to say that he was afraid to live with his parents for a month-long, court-ordered custody visit.
Jonathan “called me and said, ‘Can I come to your house instead? I know I’m going to be in trouble while I’m there because I always am,’” Shotwell said. “That’s the first time we ever heard that from him.”
“The boy’s because of a court ordered custody arrangement were spending the summer with their biological father, but they were not willing to stay with their father,” Shotwell said.
The grandmother told Fox News that his twin brother Joseph knew what was happening around and wanted to help his brother, but was afraid he would be punished as well.
I did tell him, 'I don't want you to feel guilty because there's nothing you could do.' And he says, 'I wish I had snuck him some water,' she said.
Jonathan died after he collapsed at his home, and rescuers were unable to revive him.
The father and the stepmother were arrested on Thursday and remained in the Dallas County Jail on Friday. They were charged with injury to a child.
According to Joseph, Jonathan was put in a non air conditioning room and was told to stand near the window with the sun beating down on him.
Joseph said that Jonathan had peanut butter stuck in his throat the day he died, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to drink water.
“They still wouldn’t let him have water,” Joseph said.
Joseph regularly looked out for his brother. During recess at school Joseph did find him and they’d play together.
“A child of his age would exhibit progressive symptoms of his dehydration, including complaining of thirst, progressively becoming lethargic, appearing dry (cracked lips, sunken eyes), mental status changes, decreased urine output and eventually shock/cardiac arrest,” the police documents said.
Jonathan was taken to Methodist Charlton Medical Center. Alberson one of the rescuers who took Jonathan to the hospital told police that Jonathan was sick.
The police document shows that the boy collapsed and hit his head on the floor the night he died.