Zachary Sabin, 11, died on March 11 after his parents forced him to drink four 24-ounce (710 ml) bottles of water the night before. They made him drink such a large amount of water in just four hours and without food. When his father Ryan Sabin went to wake him up the next day, he was found dead in a urine-soaked diaper, with foam coming out of his mouth and blood on his bed.
On June 9, the El Paso County Coroner's Office ruled that Zachary died of forced water intoxication and warrants were issued against his father and step-mother, Tara Sabin. They turned themselves in the same day and multiple charges including first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and six counts of misdemeanor child abuse were pressed against them. They are being held without bail at the El Paso County jail.
The couple had a history of child abuse, with Zachary's five siblings aged 2 to 15 too being their victims. Zachary's autopsy report revealed that he had blood on his left eyebrow and forehead and bruises on his head, arms, chin and buttocks, The Gazette reported. The state's Department of Human Services, which deals with child abuse and neglect, had received reports about the couple before Zachary's death.
The night before he died, Zachary began throwing up, felt pain in his legs and became nonverbal and drowsy. One of the five children told investigators that he saw him throw up at least 10 times throughout the night. Tara Sabin told investigators that he had a condition that caused him to wet the bed and that they made him drink at least 64 ounces (1.9 litre) of water every day.
That night, he allegedly threw a "tantrum", the couple told investigators. He kept throwing up as he sipped water. He also complained about pain in his feet and legs and fell on the floor. Ryan Sabin told investigators that he kicked him "a few times" as he laid on the floor. He picked him up and when he let him go, he fell on the ground and hit his forehead. He then carried his son outside thinking that the cold air would "snap Zachary out of his tantrum".
He brought him inside after a few minutes, after which he again lay on the floor, snoring. He then sat up, crossed his legs and bent forward and began snoring. Ryan told investigators that he put Zachary to bed at 11:15 p.m.
Ryan Sabin is a Sgt. 1st Class in the U.S. Army, while Tara Sabin works as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her company has reportedly placed her on unpaid administrative leave. Meanwhile, the five children have been removed from the home, where they lived with the Sabins.
"No parent should ever have to bury their child,"Angela Tuetken, Zachary's biological mother, told WTRF.