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Texas Mom Allegedly Starved 6-Year-Old Boy Described as ‘Looking Like a Skeleton.’ A Doctor Called the Neglect Case ‘One of the Worst’ She’s Seen.

Catherine Jarvey

Catherine Jarvey

Content Warning: This story includes graphic depictions of child neglect that may be disturbing to readers.

A mother in Texas was arrested last week and faces felony charges for starving her 6-year-old son and nearly killing him, authorities say.

Catherine Thomas Jarvey was taken into custody on Friday and charged with one count each of injury to a child with intent to inflict substantial bodily harm and exploitation of a child after her son was allegedly discovered weighing only 15 pounds — less than he weighed when he was only a year old.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Law&Crime, officers with the Wichita Police Department on Sept. 21 at approximately 1:30 a.m. responded to a welfare check request about a possibly injured child at the Delux Inn motel located in the 1200 block of Broad Street. Officers say they were advised that Jarvey resided in one of the rooms with her two children.

Police say that an exterminator who was in the room observed the nightmarish condition of one of Jarvey’s children.

“[A]n exterminator had been to the room and observed the Victim, whom he described as looking like a skeleton lying in a pack and play in the room,” the affidavit states. “When the head of the skeleton turned and faced the exterminator, he realized that the skeleton was a child who was alive. ”

The exterminator notified his supervisor about the child’s condition and his supervisor in turn contacted the police. Detectives with the Juvenile and Crimes Against Children Unit then responded to the motel. Upon coming into contact with Jarvey, police said she was holding a small child “that appeared to be possibly a toddler” and cradling him in her arms “much like a parent would hold an infant.”

Police say the child was in horrific shape, especially when Jarvey told them the child was actually 6 years old.

“The Victim could not extend his arms and legs and did not let out any noises. Your affiant observed the Victim move his eyes and head slightly as people talked and observed hair growing all over the Victim’s body,” the affidavit states. “Your Affiant observed that the Victim’s head was misshapen, and he suffered from a severe curve of his spine. Your Affiant could see the Victim’s rib cage which was curved inward and askew.”

Hair growth all over a child can result from a malnourished body attempting to keep warm due to a lack of fat.

Police also recovered multiple cans of Pediasure, which Catherine said she fed the child through his G-Tube (gastrostomy tube), all of which were more than two years expired. An additional 18 cases of the formula were allegedly recovered from Catherine’s storage unit, all of which allegedly had “use by” dates of 2021 or prior. She allegedly said that she fed the boy eight ounces of the formula every five hours, but admitted to missing several feedings that day because she was getting her daughter ready for a dental appointment.

Police also noted that the suspect’s 10-year-old daughter lived with her and appeared of average height and weight for a child her age.

The suspect allegedly said she was used to having CPS called on her due to her son’s appearance, but said his abnormal appearance was actually caused by multiple other medical ailments, including “alobar holoprosencephaly, hydrocephalus, pectus excavatum, and scoliosis.” Doctors confirmed that the victim was born with holoprosencephaly and required use of the G-tube for feeding.

The victim was transported to United Regional Hospital where the staff allegedly told police the victim had “no gastric contents present in his stomach,” meaning he hadn’t been fed in 24 to 48 hours. He was then transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center for more specialized treatment.

Doctors said the child had “atrophy in all extremities” and that the scoliosis was “visible in the entire spine and shoulder blades.”

“[Catherine] stated that the Victim weighed 8 Ib 7 oz and was 19 inches when he was born,” the affidavit states. “On 9/22/2022, the Victim weighed 15 lb 3.4 oz which is less than the 1st percentile for his age and gender. The Victim weighed 19 lb when he was 18 months old. This proves that despite his medical condition, the Victim should weigh significantly more.”

Dr. Elizabeth Peeler examined the victim and provided police with a report of her findings.

“Dr. Peelers medical findings consisted of the following: severe malnutrition, failure to thrive, holoprosencephaly, G-tube dependent, developmental delay, hypothermia, severe pectus, transaminitis, refeeding syndrome, medical neglect, and physical neglect,” the affidavit states. “Dr. Peeler advised in her findings that despite the Victim’s medical condition, holoprosencephaly, the Victim should weigh significantly more. She also advised that her findings were most consistent with medical neglect and physical neglect resulting in a near fatality.”

Dr. Peeler also said the child’s condition was “one of the worst” cases of neglect she’s ever seen.

“Dr. Peeler stated, ‘I see patients for neglect every day. This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. This is really egregious,'” the affidavit states. “She further advised that Catherine’s failure to seek medical care for the Victim and not feeding the Victim ‘definitely contributed’ to the Victim’s condition that resulted in a near fatality.”

Authorities said they have probable cause to believe that the benefits Jarvey had been receiving to care for her son in the form of food stamps and social security funds were not being used for his benefit while she and her daughter were both having their needs met.

The suspect was held on a $70,000 bond.

[Image via Wichita County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.