A Virginia couple was arrested this week after their 5-month-old son reportedly suffered severe rat bites.
The child's mother initially blamed her son's severe injuries on a cat when they arrived at an emergency room, but later admitted that he was bitten by rats., according to a criminal complaint filed at the Tazewell County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk's Office.
Sellina Coleman, 20, and Michael Wayne Stevenson, 38, were arraigned Tuesday. Brought to court in red jail uniforms and wearing shackles, first Coleman and then Stevenson were arraigned on two felony abuse and neglect charges alleging that they caused or permitted their son, a child under 18-years-old, "serious injury to the life or health of such child by a willful act, omission or refusal to provide necessary care," according to the arrest warrants.
Coleman and Stevenson were also each arraigned on another two felony child endangerment charges stating that while being a parent, guardian or person responsible for the care of a child under 18 years old, they did "commit a willful act or omission in the care of such child so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life."
Tazewell County police got involved on Monday, after Child Protective Services was called to a Clinch Valley hospital regarding an infant with serious injuries. Sgt. M.D. Conklin wrote that the injuries were not consistent with a cat — and maggot larvae were present in the severe wounds, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. The outlet noted that a similar incident occurred with the couple's 15-month-old son.
Coleman reportedly told police that the first bite occurred four days before the emergency room visit. Deputies who went to the couple's Falls Mills home to check on the older boy spotted a rat, per the news outlet.
Police said in a statement that both children have been removed from the home and are with family members. Both parents are being held without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority Tazewell Facility.