BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – Police say two Baker County parents confessed to abusing their 6-month-old child. Andrea Southard, 22, and Donald Holland, 23, are both charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect.
We asked Lt. David Mancini with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office if the parents seemed remorseful.
“Not so much. In my opinion, they didn’t seem to be remorseful, it’s more self-serving. Now they don’t like being in jail,” he said. “You learn in these investigations that some people just aren’t fit to be parents. They’re not ready to be parents, and they don’t deserve to be parents.”
On Saturday April 21, reports say the child was staying with his grandmother when she got a message from Southard saying, “I need the nails off because I keep scratching him – I hate it.”
The grandmother then saw the scratches on the child’s back and stomach.
Nurses later told police the scratches “were deep enough to scar”.
In another incident, the grandmother filed a report with DCF saying the child was never clean, she would witness the mother screaming at him, multiple violent outbursts toward him by both parents, and they would pick him up by his arm and lifting him in the air.
She dropped the child off to the parents Saturday, then Sunday night at the Baker Manor apartments, neighbors report hearing an argument.
One of them told police they “heard the victim crying – then heard footsteps moving across the floor before hearing the victims crying intensify.”
The parents brought the child to the hospital Tuesday, April 25.
Initially, detectives thought the child just suffered a dislocated elbow and broken arm. The child was transported to Wolfson’s and detectives learned they child had six broken bones. Some of them old, some of them recent.
The doctors report showed the child’s injuries likely happened at the same time: the injury to the arm was from someone pulling and twisting it.
Both legs were broken but appeared to be healing and were between 2 and 4 weeks old.
“So, the mother has tried to say that she’s totally responsible for the for the injuries to the child herself that she suffers from postpartum depression, that she has a learning disability and anxiety issues,” said Mancini. “She apologized for lying. But doesn’t really seem apparent to me that they understand how disturbing these offenses are.”
Mancini said the father admitted to witnessing the mother slam the child when he would cry.
Because he didn’t protect the child or report abuse, Mancini said he’s just as responsible.
Detectives learned people living nearby at Baker Manor witnessed behavior that was concerning to them.
Lt. Mancini said people have to report abuse when they see it, especially when it comes to children.
“Had this been reported to law enforcement, we could have done an investigation, maybe had that child removed prior to these injuries into this, this level of abuse,’” said Mancini.
The sheriff’s office is working with DCF to either place the child in the foster care system or with another relative.
Based on the number of injuries the child had, we’re told the State Attorney’s office may upgrade or add more counts against the parents.
Both Holland and Southard are being held on $600,000 bonds.