The Arkansas boy, who was buried under floorboards, was drowned in the toilet by his mother’s friend, officials say
A US boy whose body was found buried under the floorboards of his Arkansas home last week died three months ago after his mother’s boyfriend stuck his head in a toilet bowl as “punishment” for jabbing the man’s finger man, according to newly filed court documents explaining the circumstances of the boy’s death and the discovery of his body.
An affidavit the state filed in Lee County Circuit Court on Tuesday alleges the boy’s mother, Ashley Rolland, 28, told police her son Blu was dead Sept. 9 after an incident with boyfriend Nathan Bridges , 33, died.
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The boy’s age wasn’t immediately clear: Arkansas State Police said he was six years old, but court documents say he was born on December 16, 2017 – meaning his body was found on his 5th birthday. Blu’s paternal grandmother Karen Rolland, 57, said the boy would have turned 6 last week.
Ashley Rolland told police Bridges also caused the injuries to her surviving six-year-old daughter – later identified by medical staff as having severe burns – by holding her under hot water “as punishment for her behavior problems,” the affidavit said.
Bridges declined to be interviewed, the affidavit said.
Police arrested Rolland and Bridges around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, a day after they discovered the boy’s body buried under the hallway of his home in Moro, about 137 km east of Little Rock, police said.
Rolland and Bridges are charged with capital murder, misappropriation of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, endangering the well-being of a minor, and assault. Rolland is also facing two other child molestation charges.
Rolland is being held at the St. Francis County Detention Center. Her mugshot shows her with a black eye. A prison official could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bridges is being held in the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, the affidavit said. He was ordered not to have contact with Rolland’s surviving child, according to the document filed Monday.
Rolland and Bridges made their first court appearance Monday for a probable cause hearing, court filings show. Both are being held without bail and will appear in court on January 17 and have been appointed public defenders.
The Arkansas Public Defender Commission could not be immediately reached for comment.
First Judicial Circuit prosecutor Todd Murray could not be immediately reached with a question about how much jail time each could serve for the charges they face if convicted.
A gruesome discovery
According to the affidavit, police arrived at Rolland’s home Friday after Karen Rolland, whose son is the children’s father, called police after he arrived to pick up the children for a court-ordered visit.
Ashley Rolland brought out her daughter, who had “apparent injuries scabs on her head,” which she claimed were caused by an allergic reaction, the affidavit said.
Karen Rolland told NBC News the girl “could barely walk” and her clothes were soiled with urine. Her first request, she added, was “water and something to eat.”
“I told her she was safe and just the look on her face was pure horror,” she said.
Ashley Rolland initially told Karen Rolland that Blu was “not at the residence,” according to Karen Rolland and the affidavit. After taking her granddaughter to the hospital, Karen Rolland contacted police “to report that they had information that Blu may have passed away,” the affidavit said.
When Lee County deputies arrived, Ashley Rolland’s father, Timmy Childers, 62, told police his daughter had told him the boy was dead in the home and described where she said he was.
Childers could not be reached for comment.
Authorities entered the house and found “newly nailed boards” and “disrupted earth underneath”; Under the first layer of dirt, they found a child’s slipper, a red and blue blanket and “the pungent smell of decay,” according to the affidavit.
After a search with a search warrant, authorities removed more flooring and debris and discovered “an unidentified mass believed to be a small human body wrapped in several layers of plastic bags” which they placed in the Arkansas State Crime Lab convicted.
Kermit Channel, the director of the crime lab, said the coroner would release the cause and manner of death in 30 to 60 days.
According to the affidavit, Ashley Rolland appeared to give conflicting accounts as to who buried the boy’s body.
She told police she was in another room at the time of the alleged drowning and when she went to the bathroom after Bridges left, she saw her son “struggling to breathe and his body was limp,” according to the affidavit.
She claimed Bridges “cut a hole in her hardwood floor, dug a hole in the ground, and buried[Blu]under the house,” the affidavit reads.
But Rebecca Fiting, whose relationship with Ashley Rolland was not immediately clear, told police Ashley Rolland said: “Blu had come out of the bathroom with his face/body swollen and foaming at the mouth before collapsing and dying.”
She claimed Ashley Rolland said, “She didn’t know what to do and had Blu buried under the floorboards,” the affidavit reads.
An ongoing custody battle
Ashley Rolland’s daughter was taken to a hospital where staff found she suffered “severe burns” before transferring her to a children’s hospital in Memphis, Tenn., the affidavit said.
Court filings show that Karen Rolland filed an application for guardianship of the girl in St. Francis County Court on Wednesday and that a judge issued an order for temporary emergency guardianship.
Earlier court records show their son Dustin Rolland, 30, and Ashley Rolland married in December 2015 and divorced in June 2021. Ashley Rolland was awarded primary custody and she was tasked with coordinating Karen Rolland’s visit to the father, court filings show.
Dustin Rolland reopened the custody case on September 14 – five days after Blu was believed to have died – by filing a complaint alleging that Ashley Rolland “failed and refused to allow visits as ordered.”
Ashley Rolland was served the complaint on September 27 at the Moro home and nearly a month later filed a response claiming her ex-husband failed to pay child support or show up for visits sober, court filings show emerges.
Dustin Rolland denied the allegations, saying he paid child support from the start of the custody battle and was “trying to fight for my kids.”
“I wish I could have been there a long time ago, but she held me back from my kids,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to think this was my fault. I love my children very much.”
A long road to recovery
A family friend, Anita Widby, has started a GoFundMe campaign to support the surviving girl’s recovery and future. As of Thursday afternoon, it had raised more than $24,000. Karen Rolland said she will use some of the money to pay for updates to her home in Widener, some 60km northeast of Moro, where the girl will live with her and her father.
The home needs updating on heating, electricity, and windows “so she can keep a healthy home,” Karen Rolland said.
And the girl’s recovery “will require a lot of therapy,” she added.
On Thursday afternoon, the girl colored in the hospital after she managed to hobble to the bathroom on her burned and blistered feet, her grandmother said.
Dustin Rolland said: “She’s tough.”
https://7news.com.au/news/crime/arkansas-boy-buried-under-floorboards-was-drowned-in-toilet-by-mothers-boyfriend-officials-say-c-9256479 The Arkansas boy, who was buried under floorboards, was drowned in the toilet by his mother’s friend, officials say