(Reuters) - Manslaughter charges were filed against three people accused of killing a 3-year-old Florida boy by wrapping him tightly in a blanket and tying the ends as a form of discipline, a Lee County Sheriff’s lieutenant said on Wednesday.
Defendant Donella Trainor, a friend of the boy’s grandmother, told investigators she had disciplined her own grandchildren that way, using a technique all three adults knew as “the wrap,” Lieutenant Larry King said.
He said she pinned the boy’s arms to his side and rolled him in a king-sized blanket.
“There were six layers of cloth over this child. The loose ends would be folded over his head and feet and tied into a knot, all in an effort to prevent the child from moving,” King said. “You could use a mummy reference.”
The boy, Michael Lee McMullen, screamed and pleaded to be released as Trainor wrapped him and put him in his crib for a nap on Saturday, the sheriff’s report said.
The boy’s grandmother, Gale Watkins, 56, and his stepfather, Douglas Garrigus, 21, checked on him at different times as he cried and struggled, the report said.
Trainor returned, found the knot loose and retied it, then put pillows around the child, the report said. She later found him unresponsive and soaked in sweat, it said.
Paramedics took him to a hospital in Fort Myers on Florida’s southwest coast where he was declared dead, and the medical examiner classified the death as a homicide. The exact cause was still pending, King said.
Trainor, Watkins and Garrigus were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. Trainor, 45, was also charged with aggravated child abuse “for the torture and unlawful caging” of the boy, King said.
Watkins had custody of her grandson because the child’s mother had been involved in domestic violence, and Trainor was helping her care for him, King said.
All three suspects were arrested and jailed on Tuesday. Bond was set on Wednesday at $300,000 for Trainor and $250,000 each for Watkins and Garrigus.
Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Toni Reinhold