Bruises reported, were not enough to take toddler

The last few moments of Owen Barker's life were horrific.
Emil Whitis
Aug 2, 2012

The last few moments of Owen Barker’s life were horrific.

So says Sandusky police, tasked with investigating the 3-year-old  boy’s murder Monday evening in a Fulton Street home. 

The Lucas County coroner’s preliminary autopsy report, released Wednesday, indicates the child sustained multiple blows to his small body. 

He was “beaten by another person,” the report states.

Police believe the assailant was Michael Milner, 24, who was entrusted with watching Owen that evening while the boy’s mother was at work.

Milner is being held in the Erie County jail on $180,000 bond, on charges of murder, felonious assault and child endangering. 

A complete list of the injuries shows Owen sustained heavy internal and external bruising to multiple areas on his head, lungs and abdomen. He also suffered internal cuts to his intestines and the base of his liver, as well as scrapes on his face, head and penis, according to the autopsy report. 

The report states the injury that killed the boy was a puncture to the top of his heart, likely caused by blunt force trauma — essentially a fatal blow to his torso.

In a recorded 911 call Monday evening, Milner is heard telling a dispatcher that Owen was injured when he tripped on a toy truck.

But the autopsy report also documents something else about Owen’s body: bruises from injuries sustained days or even weeks prior to the injuries that caused his death.

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said the boy’s mother, Danielle Flannery, 22, has retained an attorney.  

Milner is Flannery’s boyfriend, although he is not the father of Owen, police have said. 

Officials at the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services, meanwhile, said they did everything they could to help Owen after an incident last year, also involving Milner.

Newly released documents show county social workers investigated Milner on Aug. 19, 2011, after getting a report of abuse from Ashland County.

The report was made by Owen’s grandparents after they discovered bruises on the boy’s buttocks and scrotum while they were babysitting the toddler, who had just turned 2 years old at the time. 

Social workers saw the boy the same day the report was filed, Erie County Job and Family Services director Karen Balconi-Ghezzi said.

“By the time we saw it, the bruising had gone to the yellow stage,” Balconi-Ghezzi said. “It wasn’t substantial enough for charges.”

Sandusky police then interviewed Milner and Flannery, according to a police report.

During the interview, Flannery told police Milner had spanked Owen when she was at work.

“She stated Milner caught Owen climbing out of a second story window. Milner then gave Owen a spanking,” the police report said. “She said she does not think Milner realized how hard he hit Owen and she was sure he did not mean to harm Owen.”

Days later, Milner admitted to police that he bent the toddler over his knee and spanked him after catching the boy trying to go out the window.

“Milner said he feels horrible about the incident and did not mean to spank him that hard ... he did not mean to hurt Owen,” the report said. “Milner said he will never spank (Owen) again.”

That’s where talk of charges ended.

“There’s spanking and then there’s spanking,” Balconi-Ghezzi said. “If there is a break in the flesh or serious damage to the body, then it rises to the next level.”

After the interview, social workers were convinced of Milner’s regret.

“Everything seemed to indicate that they were a caring pair of people that wanted to make sure it never happened again,” Balconi-Ghezzi said. “The child was non-verbal at the time.”

Other than filing charges, the only thing social workers could do was separate the child from Milner. But that would have required an emergency removal order.

To obtain that the county would have had to convince a judge that Owen was in “imminent danger,” and that’s not what the facts showed at the time, Balconi-Ghezzi said. 

Rather, social workers saw the event as an opportunity to talk to Flannery about her situation.

“We offered daycare services and parenting classes,” Balconi-Ghezzi said. “At that point, it’s up to her.”

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said he has reviewed the case and determined that social workers are in the clear.

There’s a “huge movement” for agencies to respect the unity of a family, Baxter said. 

“You cannot just go in and take the children away without a really good reason,” Baxter said.

He pointed to a 1999 case where social workers at Erie County Job and Family Services tried to separate a man from his children after he spanked the kids.

After he was acquitted of child endangering charges, “Richard W.” sued to get his children back. In the end, the court of appeals ruled that the county had overstepped its bounds.

The court not only granted custody to the father, but came back with a fiery condemnation of what social workers had tried to do.

“Normally, our analysis of the case would end upon our making that determination,” a court mandate said.

“We cannot, however, put this matter to rest without stating ... this court has been shocked by the behavior of (social workers) in this matter.”

The rebuke also seemed to be aimed at the fact that the involved boys, ages 3 and 11, were forced to undress multiple times in front of female social workers.

Baxter said there is no legal restriction on the age a child must be before a parent can spank them — even if the child is a 2-year-old.

It just has to be done in a  “reasonable” manner, Baxter said.

Comments

Concerned For A...

Patrick_501....So sorry for your familys loss. But seriously. The way the public sees it.....WHY IN THE HECK WOULD YOUR SISTER STAY WITH A MORON...THAT HIT YOUR NEPHEW SO DANG HARD...THAT HE LEFT BRUISES ALL OVER HIS LOWER AREA, BUTTOCKS, WHAT HAVE YOU???? I'm sure she is crying, because she knows she is partially responsible for this childs death. If she was more worried about protecting little Owen, than her own feelings and needs, her baby would still be alive right now!!!! It's hard for people to be sympathetic to your sister when we can all see that SHE COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS FROM HAPPENING!!!! From the minute she found out she was pregnant with this child, it became her responsibility to love and protect that child to the best of her abilities for the rest of her life. We as parents NEVER stop trying to protect our children from harm. I'm here to tell you right now..If anyone ever...and I mean EVER......Put their hands on my baby like that, he would have been fishing HIS MAN PARTS out of his throat and picking his teeth up off of the floor. She should have left him IMMEDIATLEY!!!!!!! Truth.....your sister didn't do it...ALSO truth..and it is a very SAD truth...She could have stopped this, PERIOD!!!!

bobaluey

  Idiot  Birther  has to get a lawyer,,  the plot thickens.  She's in trouble.

OMGreally

 unfortunately I am sure he is in solitary and not general pop where he should be...let what happens there happen...that boy suffered...

NineMM

 Reading todays paper I am more convinced now that Baby Owen suffered abuse over a long period of time............................How can a child be spanked so hard that his buttocks and private parts get bruised? The list  of injuriesin the autopsy and noted in the print edition of todays Register were many................How could the Mother of this child not know this pos was not abusing him? Doesn't make sense and, although I'm sure she loved this child, she didn't care enough to remove him from harm. She should face charges as well. 

Erie Countian

Poor dear little one. Depending on adults to care for him and protect him, and instead he is abused and killed. There are no words...my heart breaks for this precious baby and others like him who suffer at the hands of such monsters. I hope the idiot mother and her muderer boyfriend are punished to the maximum extent.

2inohio

OH REALLY!   THAT MOTHER  needs  to  be   in the same  place  as  MIKEY the  murderer....   THAT  POOR LITTLE BABY!   I knew  there  was  MORE  to this  BECAUSE   I KNOW  about  MILNER ABUSE!  OH PLEASE  get YOUR heads  OUT  your  rear ends .......  THANK GRANDPARENTS   they are  the  keepers  of  the  little ones   BUT YOU ALL FAIL  that  baby ..... now  I  am  more  than convinced    it  has  been  going on  for a LONGTIME  because  a  1 time incident   does not  BRUISE  EVER.......  

 I know  about spanking  and  I know  about  abuse , THAT sweet  baby had  NO chance of  escape ..... SORRy OWEYs'  Gramma  and  grampa  and  REAL FATHER  for your  LOSS.....

PARATY ON MIKEY  AND  sorry  excuse  for  a mother YOU BLEW IT  as a  MOTHER  BIGTIME

I  understand  the legalities  of  the  social workers   and  the  court  system .......   BUT ITS A BIG FAIL ! BIGTIME   and    babies  CANNOT TALK ,  they  only know  what they are exposed to  and  they  do not understand  the  right  and  the  wrong  of  things ...  BUT  GOD   has  a  way  of  sheltering them   and  when you  are LUCKY  to escape  HURENDOUS  abuse .... YOU KNOW   IT WAS WRONG  and  with  HELP you MOVE ON .......  OWEN  had  to move  to a different place  then most of  us  who  have  been  abuse ..... SWEET BABY BOY  .....  YOU ARE LOVED  by people who never knew you precios  little  boy .....and  I cry still.

2inohio

OH REALLY!   THAT MOTHER  needs  to  be   in the same  place  as  MIKEY the  murderer....   THAT  POOR LITTLE BABY!   I knew  there  was  MORE  to this  BECAUSE   I KNOW  about  MILNER ABUSE!  OH PLEASE  get YOUR heads  OUT  your  rear ends .......  THANK GRANDPARENTS   they are  the  keepers  of  the  little ones   BUT YOU ALL FAIL  that  baby ..... now  I  am  more  than convinced    it  has  been  going on  for a LONGTIME  because  a  1 time incident   does not  BRUISE  EVER.......  

 I know  about spanking  and  I know  about  abuse , THAT sweet  baby had  NO chance of  escape ..... SORRy OWEYs'  Gramma  and  grampa  and  REAL FATHER  for your  LOSS.....

PARATY ON MIKEY  AND  sorry  excuse  for  a mother YOU BLEW IT  as a  MOTHER  BIGTIME

I  understand  the legalities  of  the  social workers   and  the  court  system .......   BUT ITS A BIG FAIL ! BIGTIME   and    babies  CANNOT TALK ,  they  only know  what they are exposed to  and  they  do not understand  the  right  and  the  wrong  of  things ...  BUT  GOD   has  a  way  of  sheltering them   and  when you  are LUCKY  to escape  HURENDOUS  abuse .... YOU KNOW   IT WAS WRONG  and  with  HELP you MOVE ON .......  OWEN  had  to move  to a different place  then most of  us  who  have  been  abuse ..... SWEET BABY BOY  .....  YOU ARE LOVED  by people who never knew you precios  little  boy .....and  I cry still.

Typical

The mother too should be in jail, piece of trash...she knew what was going on, but she loved her boyfriend...

it happens over and over and the kids are the ones who pay for it, because of the rotten parents they have.

She might of loved her son ,but not enough to get rid of that piece of trash...

RIP OWEN...now you're in Gods hands and he will protect you forever.

grannie G

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements. Discussion Guidelines

RUKidding

 I can't say I'm shocked that the system failed this child. Far too often the concern is "respecting the family unit". What about when the family unit is far too broken? Just because somebody can reproduce doesn't mean that they should have. There are plenty of people out there that could have raised this child appropriately and he would still be alive and have the opportunity to grow up into a fine upstanding young man. Even if he would have survived his little life. He really didn't have much chance being raised by these morons.

The mother needs to be charged with neglect for leaving him with the boyfriend and accessory to murder for staying with the moron when she knew he was harmful in the first place. Here's your newsflash honey. That is your child, your only responsiblity in this world is to provide for his well being and safety. That is what you were put on this earth for. If you couldn't handle that then you needed to give that little boy to somebody that could. 

 

countrygirl30

How horrible what that baby went through.  He is in heaven now.  I can't even imagine what the last 3 years of his life were like.  It's so sad that nobody could save him.  Rest in peace little sweety....

Louie

God bless this innocent little boy hes with God and no one will ever abuse him again as for the POS that did this cant wait untill you get to prison and you get yours and you will God will see to it.For this so called mother she should be locked away and fixed so she can never have anymore kids period.You cant tell me she didnt know this was going on I guess the POS was more impotant then that innocent little boy was.This sickens me and saddens me there was no reason for this but plain stupidy and abuse My thoughts and prayers go to his real father and the grandparents.

mammamia

Was there anyone OTHER than Milner who saw the child trying to climb out the window? ..or was that just Milner's "justification" for spanking the baby?  How low to the floor was the window sill?  I've seen some only about 12 to 18 inches up, but otherwise - how would a 2 year old be able to get up to the window sill to be in danger? 

At 2 years old children are inquisitive, incredibly mobile, they'll try anything (at least once) but the trying doesn't justify spanking hard enough to cause ANY kind of bruising.  I've raised boys - 9 in all, counting nephews etc. - so I'm familiar with their anatomy ... and spanking even an energetic squirmer NEVER put my palm in contact with their testicles .. by the way, I never spanked more than 2 swats and never hard enough to even redden the buttocks, let alone leave bruises. 

Milner has obviously been abusing this child for quite some time.  His "justifications" are NOT convincing to anyone who took the time to THINK about what he was saying - whether it was plausible or possible - and he was believed because Mother WANTED to believe it and apparently the authorities went with the LETTER of the law rather than the INTENT. 

May the grandparents and father find peace, I'm sure Owen finally has, altho that's not much consolation for having lost him. 

 

Curley

I have read the paper again. I'm upset with Children's Services they should have kept on with the constant watch over the so called boyfried. I was in the ER that night when Owen was brought in and let  me tell you it was heart wrenching. When we left the family was outside waiting for someone to come. To make a long story short they should put Mike Milner in general population and see what happens to him. There may be robbers and thugs in jail but they do not like child abusers of any sort

Sandusky Register Reader's picture
Sandusky Regist...

Utterly tragic and extremely sad.

san-dusk-y sucks

Let me just say I do not know any of the people involved....But, up until this article I was not quite sure what to think about this situation. But now with all these new details released it is obvious to me that he is guilty of brutally beating this boy. It was not an accident. And it was not some type of medical misdiagnosis as others have proclaimed! And until now I also felt sorry for the mom. NOT ANYMORE! She should face charges also. However I still believe that Children Services also are guilty of dropping the ball on this case! Such a tradgedy! Poor little guy. May he rest in peace and justice be served. Prayers for the rest of this poor baby's family.  This story breaks my heart!

I notice it is quieter on here....not so many "supporters" for the guy who was charged!

Reva

 Damn you girls!  Keep your legs together and quit having these kids.   Or step up to the plate and make sure they are taken care of!  These boys are gonna keep taking as long as you keep dishes out the goods. They don't care about you or your babies!

starryeyes83

See,  the county can only do so much.   Until the laws are changed to be more tougher.  This will keep happening. 

25yr.resident

 I long for the day when I see the headlines: SANDUSKY REGISTER SUED FOR BEING INEPT JOURNALISTS AND HAVING IDIOTIC REPORTERS.  I doubt I'll live long enough, but one can only hope.   Keep fueling the fire, idiots, keep up the good work.  Some day, when the truth all comes out, I hope that the reporters who inflame this crap rot in hell.  You deserve it.

BEHAPPY

 R.I.P little doll baby    : '  (

GOD will keep you safe now.

As for the mother and her wonderful BOYFRIEND~You WILL pay for all that you did to  this little innocent, HELPLESS little boy as he was your "gift from GOD"

 

How awful~my heart aches for him.   : ' (

BEHAPPY

 @ 25 Yr. resident~please tell me you are not condoning what has happened to this little boy?   Fell on a truck?   Really?

25yr.resident

 This paper should be shut down for making it a point to display the business of others.  You're a local National Enquirer, not a paper.  Leave these people alone.  THAT'S my point.  Just leave them alone.

Sue Meredith

@25yr.resident

Leave these people alone? Are you kidding me? These "people" MURDERED an innocent baby!!!! The Register is doing their job. What would you have the Register to do? Pat this low life on the head and say "Thats alright, you beat the kid to death but we won't tell anyone"?

 

ItsMsMelissaK2U

Well back when I was younger Social Services returned me back to my dad.  I was in a very loving, caring, God Fearing Family!  Social Services told my foster mother that my problem was "I was loved too much"  I WAS 4 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Children Services does not protect children they protect themselves.

Rest in peace little Angel.  They wont be able to hurt you anymore!!!!!!!!!

This is just disgusting and I have nothing else to say.

Yes the mother should be charged with child endangerment.  I understand she was at work.   But she was home too and I am sure she noticed marks placed on this little boy!!!!!  She

Sue Meredith

This is so sad. RIP little angel!!!

Katelih-Trailer...

 I must say..that was a very classy move, eightballcuet1

Taxed Enough Already

 For some reason this case haunts me.  Words cannot discribe what this child has had to endure.  I guess as a parent I just can't comprehend this.  I would move heaven and earth to protect my baby and I would want an answer for every bruise found on his little body.  

It truly breaks my heart and the ONLY good that has come out of this is that this precious child will never have to suffer or be hurt again.  He sure could not count on the adults in his life to protect him.  I have read all the face book pages and none of the adults in Owen's life appear to be model citizens. As for Children Services...what were you thinking????  Mike really seemed sorry for what he had done??  Did you just close this case out or did you do ANY follow ups.  I realize laws bog things down but come on!!! Somebody has some explainin' to do for sure!  Lot's of somebodies.   

lifetimeresident

What was the time frame for these injuries.  Was this child hurt before the mother went off to work?

Restless1

25 yr resident!!!  What the hell are you babling about?  A child has been killed in our community!  It is news!  That is what is reported.  The SR is not your parish bulletin full of love, hugs and good things to come.  It's rear time life being reported.

HaRley44

 READ THE REPORT ON WHAT HiS INJURIES WERE...3 years old having his Life beat out of him and a$$hole people thinking he fell on a truck...believing that nonsense is a sin in itself the report CLEARLY states he was beaten by another person and only two were in the apartment ...it's not rocket science it's cut and dry...this guy however wonderful people want to claim beyond a reasonable doubt did this.how can some of you people forget that precious child had a horrific ending to his life for what? What can a 3 year old possibly do that would warrant a beating that severe? A previous report says he spanked the kid on his rear so hard he bruised...for being on the roof..does anyone see the problem with a 3 year old being on the roof ? Would that happen if responsible parents were watching the child? Probably not..that report is so heartbreaking how can some people have no heart? Or have the audacity to cheapen this tragedy? And a $180,000 bond? What? Ugh I am so disgusted in so many ways  god bless the family and RIP Owen </3

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