Elwood, IN – An Indiana mother who claimed that her five-year-old son mysteriously became trapped in a running washing machine has been charged with child neglect.
Police responded to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital on Aug. 16, after the bruised, scratched-up little boy was rushed to the hospital by his father, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The boy was “somewhat dry with wet underwear,” had dirty knees, and was slipping in and out of consciousness, medical personnel told police.
He was ultimately transferred to the Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for further care, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Doctors at the children’s hospital said that the boy’s injuries were “highly suspicious for non-accidental trauma,” according to WDRB.
The child’s father told police that he was at work when he received a call from his girlfriend, 30-year-old Heather Oliver, at approximately 9:15 a.m., WNYW reported.
Oliver, who had not dialed 911 before calling him, told him that their five-year-old son was stuck inside the washing machine, and that it was filled with water and running.
The boy’s father immediately rushed home and found Oliver holding the boy, WNYW reported.
When he patted his son on the back, the child began vomiting water, so he scooped him up and drove him to the hospital.
Oliver told police that she woke up at approximately 9 a.m. and stuck her head in her son’s room, but claimed she believed he was still asleep under a pile of blankets, The Indianapolis Star reported.
She said that when she wandered out to the kitchen to get herself a glass of milk, she heard the washing machine running.
Oliver, who leaves the laundry to her boyfriend, said she thought it was odd that the machine would be running at that time of day, so she went to check it out.
That’s when she found her son stuck inside, The Indianapolis Star reported.
According to court documents, Oliver said she hit the stop button and yanked the little boy out of the machine, at which point he vomited.
She the called her boyfriend and told him to come home.
Oliver told police that she has a medical condition that prevents her from lifting heavy objects, and noted that is why her boyfriend does the laundry, WDRB reported.
She said she has no idea how to operate their washing machine.
When police returned to the home with a search warrant, they found no signs of a struggle and no water or blood on the floor of the home.
Although Oliver claimed to have poured a glass of milk just prior to finding her son trapped in the machine, there was no glass of milk at the home nor was there a jug of milk in the refrigerator, police said.
Officers located a pile of blankets in the little boy’s bedroom, but said that they were not arranged in a way that would lead someone to believe that a child was lying beneath them, WDRB reported.
Investigators also spoke with a representative of the Lucky Goldstar washing machine manufacturing company, who told them that the water to the machine shuts off automatically when the lid is open.
Officers tested the machine by attempting to operate it while the lid was open, but received an error message, according to court documents.
A forensic interviewer met with the little boy three days after he was taken to the hospital, but he did not disclose much about the washing machine incident, WDRB reported.
At one point during their conversation, the interviewer asked him if his mother is nice.
“Mom is not nice,” he replied, according to court documents.
Oliver was later arrested for felony neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury, WNYW reported.
She was released on bond on Dec. 20.