BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - An 18-month old boy who suffered severe injuries has now died, and investigators say new charges will be filed against his mother and her boyfriend.
According to the Blount County Sheriff’s Department, Samantha McCormack will be charged with reckless murder and Robert Elmore Jr. will be charged with Capital Murder.
"We are emotionally drained. It’s heartbreaking. And just a senseless act,” said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey.
Investigator Edward Hull with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office says on September 6, he received a call from dispatch stating that an 18-month-old male was injured at Locust Fork Hardware.
Deputies on the scene said the child had knots and bruising on his forehead and had bloodshot eyes. Medics were working on the child who was unresponsive and turning blue. They were going to transport him to the Locust Fork Fire Station to meet Air Transport to take him to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
Deputies learned that McCormack, the child’s mother, brought the child to the Locust Fork Hardware store. She stated she was home with the children, who were eating when she went into the other room to use the bathroom. She said she heard something fall and when she came back into the room, the victim was choking and had fallen. She stated that she cleared the child’s mouth and he quit choking. She said that happened around 5:30 p.m. and a little while later he wasn’t doing well, so she bathed him and decided to take him to the hospital. On her way to the hospital she stopped for gas at the Locust Fork Hardware store, and that’s when an employee called 911.
While waiting for paramedics to arrive at the hardware store, police say in court documents that the mother’s fiance, Elmore, Jr., arrived along with his parents and two other children. Elmore stated he received a call from McCormack around 6 p.m. saying something was wrong with the 18 month old and she was taking him to the hospital.
At this time, Investigator Hull said he instructed Sgt. Christopher Holloman with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to go secure the scene at the child’s home. Hull also called DHR to come investigate the welfare of the other children, a 3-year-old girl and a twin of the victim - an 18-month-old girl.
Investigator Hull says McCormack’s three children were removed from her custody on October 16, 2018. A protection from abuse order was obtained by McCormack against Elmore in March 2019 and the children were returned to McCormack’s custody on June 17, 2019.
Investigator Hull says in court documents he went to Children’s of Alabama and learned from the child’s doctor that the child was unstable, had an internal brain injury, possibly from being shaken violently and probably would not survive his injuries. The doctor stated the child was in shock and was very cold and that they were trying to raise his temperature. He stated the child had little to no brain function. The doctor indicated that the injuries were not consistent with the story given to law enforcement by McCormack.
"The severity of the child's injuries, even the doctor indicated that as you see in the charging documents, that this was not an accident. And that it would take an adult to do and cause these injuries,” said Casey.
"The doctor said that there is no way that this is an accident. The doctor said that it had to be an adult that purposefully and intentionally caused these injuries,” said Sheriff Mark Moon.
When deputies interviewed Elmore, Jr. at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, he admitted that he had hurt the child when he tried to pick him up from a pack 'n play. Elmore, Jr. said he had a glass of tea in one hand and a TV remote in his other hand and when he bent over to pickup the child with his forearms, the child slipped and hit his head on the pack 'n play before falling to the floor. He stated the child was limp and unresponsive, so he shook the child several times to see if he was OK.
Elmore, Jr. says at that point he texted McCormack and she said to wait until she got home. He admitted he never called 911, nor did McCormack. Elmore, Jr. stated he didn’t tell McCormack the truth because he did not want her mad at him. He denied knowing how the child got a bruise under his chin. He stated he was babysitting the children because he lost his job 2-3 months ago.
When deputies interviewed McCormack again, court documents show she admitted she lied to deputies because she was scared DHR would take her children away again. She stated when she arrived home, the child was bleeding from his mouth and she went to get a popsicle to put on his cut. She stated he was not responsive so she got into the shower with him and gave him a cold shower to try to get him to respond. When he didn’t respond, that’s when she drove to the Locust Fork Hardware Store.
When deputies interviewed Elmore, Jr. again, he stated he picked up the child and the child grabbed his chest hairs. He said that infuriated him and he lost his temper. Emore, Jr. said he turned loose of him and the child hit the pack and play and then the floor. He said the child was unresponsive so he shook him and then texted McCormack.
According to court documents, the child’s medical records state the child “is a victim of a severe battering and shaking injury. There has been no plausible accidental injury to explain his many injuries, so this is physical abuse. It would take an adult-size person to pick him up and cause these injuries. If the history is accurate, the only adults at home were his mother and the mother’s boyfriend. He would have been symptomatic immediately after sustaining the injuries and would not appear normal to anyone who was observing him. The bruising of his head and back are not in usual locations for self-inflicted accidental injuries. He has been battered and shaken severely, causing this devastating injury to his brain. He is not expected to survive.”
"I can’t understand how anybody would harm a child,” said Moon. “Like I said there are a whole lot of people right now that are hurting.”
If you know of a possible child abuse case, contact Childhelp at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. The hotline is the only national line dedicated exclusively to child abuse and neglect and is operated 24/7 by professional counselors over phone, text and online chat at www.childhelphotline.org.