A Virginia woman’s charges were upgraded in court Wednesday after prosecutors alleged she did “absolutely nothing” to stop the brutal torture and ultimate death of her 4-year-old stepson.
According to court documents filed at the Norfolk Circuit Court, 35-year-old Catherine Louise Seals, who was previously facing child neglect charges, is now facing first-degree homicide charges in connection with the death of Larkin Carr.
Assistant Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney, Jill Harris, said that although Seals didn’t physically cause 4-year-old Larkin’s death, but she let her son, 14-year-old Robert Bolsinger-Hartshorn, beat, kick, slap, starve, and torture the little boy until he died.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Bolsinger-Hartshorn called his mother, Seals, on November 12, 2018, and said Larkin was unresponsive in their Norfolk home. Seals, who said she was out with the child’s father when her son contacted her, called 911.
Detective Matthew Nordan testified that he spoke to Seals several times following Larkin’s death. The detective said Seals changed her story multiple times, but ended up admitting she witnessed Larkin throwing up through an entire weekend before he died.
Seals allegedly admitted she saw a “brown-reddish substance” in the boy’s vomit, according to The Virginian-Pilot. She reportedly claimed she didn’t take Larkin in for medical help because he didn’t have a fever and had slowly started eating again.
The following Monday, as Seals dropped her her daughter off in Virginia Beach, Bolsinger-Hartshorn called her about Larkin. She then decided to call 911 for assistance.
Larkin was subsequently taken to the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters (CHKD). Doctors noticed the boy had a black eye and bruises all over his body. He died in the hospital the same day.
According to court documents, an autopsy noted Larkin had blunt force trauma to his head and abdomen. Harris said he had around 70 to 90 bruises on his body, according to WAVY. The autopsy indicated Larkin had around 10 welts on his scalp and a blow so severe that his small intestine ruptured.
Larkin and his younger brother, 3, were staying with their father, Hank Smith, on a trial basis when the alleged abuse began. After living in foster care, the boys moved in with their dad and his girlfriend, Seals, in July. Seals’ teen son and her toddler daughter were also in the home.
When authorities questioned Bolsinger-Hartshorn, he said his mother left him in charge of the two boys on November 9. He reportedly admitted to punching Larkin repeatedly, slamming a chair into his stomach, and holding his head down that day. A few days later, when Larkin passed away, Seals was again not at home and left the teen in charge of the little boys’ care.
Smith said he typically left his two boys with Seals while he worked. Seals then left the boys in the teen’s care on numerous occasions, according to court documents.
Larkin’s trip to the hospital in November marked the second time he’d been taken in with injuries. In September 2018, Larkin and his brother were brought into CHKD with strangulation injuries, reportedly caused by the 14-year-old.
Initially, the boys’ father and the teen told authorities that the little boys harmed each other while playing, but medical experts said the injuries weren’t caused by young children their age.
Prosecutors said the teen consistently abused both boys while watching them over a span from July to November. He’s accused of pushing them, taking away their toys, hitting them, and making them hang from pull-up bars.
“Larkin would tell me that the 14-year-old would hit him,” Larkin’s mother, Tracy Quiñones, told CBS 17. “It was told to me that what Larkin was saying wasn’t true and everything was fine.”
Quiñones noticed bruising on both boys during previous visitations with them. She said she reported the incident to Norfolk Child Protective Services, but nothing ever came of it. Quiñones said CPS visited Larkin’s home and determined “everything was OK.”
“When they had checked the home and checked everything out, they had told me that everything was OK,” Quiñones said.
On January 30, Seals’ defense lawyer argued that her bail should be reduced since she wasn’t home at the time boy died, but still called emergency services to get him help. Judge Lauri D. Hogge, who said she was “speechless” after reviewing graphic images of Larkin’s tiny bruised body, denied the woman’s bond.
“I may go vomit,” the judge said.
Meanwhile, Larkin’s family is hoping for justice.
“Catherine allowed her son to abuse my 4-year-old handsome baby cousin,” family member Margie Thomas told CrimeOnline. “She did nothing to stop the abuse that was ongoing for 2 1/2 months.”
Bolsinger-Hartshorn is being charged as an adult, is facing a second-degree murder charge. Both Seals and the teen remain behind bars without bond.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Larkin Carr/Family Handout]