A couple from Denver, Anthony Harrell, 50, and Denise Combs, 57,were charged with “felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury,” after their 15-year-old son was found to have suffered third-degree liquid Drano chemical burns to his groin, stomach, and legs.
The Denver Channel reported on Jan. 10 that one of the boy’s teachers called her student’s home after he hadn’t been to school since Nov. 20.
The boy’s mother, Denise Combs, informed the teacher over the phone that her son had an accident at their Colo. home after getting into some chemicals stored under the sink, and suffered serious burns to his groin, stomach, and legs.
The mother told her son’s teacher that the boy had been to see the doctor; but she wasn’t sure when the boy would be able to return to school.
Ultimately, Combs’ suspicious statements to the teacher resulted in a welfare check and search warrant.
The teacher called a child abuse hotline and told a Denver Human Services official what she had learned about the teen being burned with chemicals.
The human services worker asked Denver police to conduct a welfare check on the boy.
When police arrived at the child’s home on Dec. 16 asking to speak with the boy, the boy’s father, Anthony Harrell, refused to allow the police in the house. Instead, according to court papers, the father "escorted the victim out the front door completely naked."
An officer immediately noticed burns and peeling scabs on the boy's genitalia and stomach area, the affidavit said. "The skin on the victim's penis and scrotum was still black," the affidavit stated.
When police asked the father if the 15-year-old had seen a doctor, the father responded that the family tried to treat the injuries at home, contradicting the mother’s earlier statements to the teacher.
The mother then changed her story and told police that she contacted a local pharmacist, who said to treat the burns with Solarcaine and Neosporin.
Paramedics who were called to the home informed a detective that father told them the boy had poured liquid Drano on the floor, urinated in the Drano and then sat in it, the affidavit said. One paramedic said the injuries were not consistent with the victim sitting in the chemical.
The scalding of the teen took place before Thanksgiving. Both parents were taken into custody and charged.
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