Police suspect Wakeman mom abused 3-year-old daughter

WAKEMAN Possible cigarette burns and bruising discovered on a 3-year-old Huron County girl could lea
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

WAKEMAN

Possible cigarette burns and bruising discovered on a 3-year-old Huron County girl could lead to domestic violence charges against the mother.

Police declined to identify the 27-year-old mother, who was staying in Wakeman. The investigation into the incident was not complete Monday morning.

"We'll send all the information to the law director, and he'll make the decision what the charges may be, if any," Wakeman police Chief Tim Hunker said.

A tip from a friend of the child's family June 17 led to a police investigation, Hunker said. Huron County Children Services was also contacted.

Hunker said police removed the girl from the home and placed her with a family friend after discovering burns on the top of her hands and bruises on her face and forehead.

The mother told police the bruising on the child's face resulted from the girl falling out of a parked vehicle, Hunker said. The small, circular burns looked like they were caused by lit cigarettes.

As the economic recession wears on, Hunker said his department seems to be responding to more domestic violence cases. He's removed four children from their homes in the past six months.

"I think we've seen more threats -- not necessarily physical abuse," Hunker said.

Police most commonly hear of suspected abuse cases through phone calls from friends and relatives.

Trista Piccola, administrator of Huron County's Children Services, said so far this year the number of child abuse cases has dipped slightly from the same period in 2008.

The number of these cases handled last year by Children Services was 398. The agency also handled an additional 148 cases involving children who may be living in at-risk situations.

The caseload last year was up from 2007, when the agency handled 489 cases in total, Piccola said.

About halfway through the year, Children Services has handled a total of 199 cases.

But the number of requests the Huron County Job & Family Services receives for assistance from the family support division -- which handles food stamps and emergency rent assistance -- has increased tenfold, Piccola said.

The agency doesn't have the funds to help everyone, she said, and funding is expected to be slashed considerably next fiscal year because of state budget cuts.