A California man and his girlfriend are facing felony charges after prosecutors said that a 5-year-old boy is in critical condition after the couple abused him.
KTLA reports that on Tuesday, Murietta police and emergency personnel were called to a home at 24001 Verdun Lane, in response to a child in medical distress. According to police, first responders found the young boy in the home with severe injuries that required immediate medical attention. Authorities rushed the boy to the hospital, where he was then airlifted to a different medical facility in San Diego County.
Court documents indicate that the boy’s father, 33-year-old U.S. Navy Sailor Benjamin Whitten, and Whitten’s live-in girlfriend, 25-year-old Jeryn Johnson, were held responsible for the little boy’s injuries. Reportedly, they beat and “tortured” the child, although the exact way they carried out the abuse is still unclear. Johnson called authorities herself when the boy became unresponsive.
Authorities also found that the boy was living in “extremely unsanitary” conditions with 11 dogs, four cats, and two fish inside the residence. They also found that he was extremely malnourished.
Whitten is a machinist’s mate nuclear first class, stationed at San Diego’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Detachment, while Johnson is a home daycare worker. She posted on Facebook recently, advertising childcare services out the couple’s Murietta home.
“I’m a military wife and stay at home mom to a 4 year old boy. I’m not licensed but I am cpr and 1st aid certified. Please private message me if interested!”
On Wednesday morning, neighbors held a vigil for the child outside of his Murietta home. Some of the residents in the neighborhood said that the family didn’t come out or socialize often and they had no idea the boy was being abused. Yet, a few neighbors said that did hear the father yelling every now and then.
The suspects are being charged with torture and child abuse, and both remain behind bars on $1 million bail, each. Their next scheduled hearing is on August 24.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Murietta Police]