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An Indiana mother was arrested after her 5-year-old son injured himself after becoming trapped inside a running washing machine.
Authorities charged Heather Oliver, 30, of Elwood, with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury for the Aug. 16 incident. St. Vincent Mercy Hospital staff found the boy had suffered a series of scratches on his arms and bruises on his chest and back, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Oliver was released on Dec. 20 after posting a $10,000 surety bond, records show.
The mother allegedly told Madison County Sheriff’s investigators that she woke up on the day in question around 9 a.m. and thought she saw her son in bed. She then made her way to the kitchen and started pouring a glass of milk, she told authorities.
That’s when Oliver said she remembered thinking it was “odd” that water was filling up in the family’s washing machine, the court document states.
As she approached the washer, she said she could hear her son inside.
The mother recalled peering through the pane of glass at her son who had a facial expression like “he was in shock,” according to the document.
Oliver said she then “yanked” her son out of the machine.
Once out, Oliver said, she called her husband at work and told him to come home.
The father allegedly arrived at the family's South B Street home and heard his wife repeatedly calling, “Back here.”
He walked to the laundry area and took his son into his arms.
The “soaked” boy was in and out of consciousness and his eyes were rolling back in his head, Oliver claimed, according to the affidavit.
The father told investigators the boy then vomited on him.
Together, the parents took the boy to the hospital.
Investigators questioned Oliver, and she first claimed to have “unplugged the washer” after her child had been inside it for “approximately five minutes," according to the document.
The machine apparently only started to fill with water, and never started cycling or spinning, according to her statements to investigators.
But investigators say Oliver “changed” her story, and was less sure about the five minutes her son was stuck in the machine; she also allegedly told them that rather than unplug the machine, “she hit the power button” to unlock its latch.
Pressed about why she called her husband instead of dialing 911, the mother allegedly told investigators that his number was the first one that she saw on her phone.
The mother also allegedly claimed “she was trying to care for [her son]” until her husband returned home, according to the affidavit. The mother also said she cradled her boy and rocked him back and forth following the terrifying situation.
In a subsequent interview, investigators asked Oliver if she had intentionally put her son into the washing machine.
“No,” she responded, according to the affidavit. She also allegedly denied disciplining the child in the days or moments leading up to when he was found in the washer.
Three days after the incident, the boy was asked about his mother, and the boy allegedly described his mom as "not nice,” the affidavit states, without detailing anything about how he found himself inside the washing machine.
Investigators proceeded to learn more about the washing machine, speaking to the manufacturer and getting a manual to better understand how it functioned.
They also brought the parents in for further questioning.
In those interviews, the boy's father stressed that prior to the washing machine incident, Oliver was getting around with a cane and that he believed she “would never hit” their son.
What’s more, he informed investigators that his wife had become sick and was taking a variety of medications.
The father also said that his son had been getting in the habit of playing “peek-a-boo” where he would try to hide in his toy box and then “jump out to scare people,” the affidavit reads.
Oliver listed some of the meds she was taking and also allegedly claimed that she had stopped using the washing machine because of various ailments.
The mother also claimed her son hadn't shown any interest in the washer, but he had helped her carry some of the laundry in the past.
As for the bruises on his back and the scratches on her son's arms — Oliver claimed she hadn't disciplined the boy "at all recently" and that he "had no scratches or bruises on him the night before."
Oliver made her first court appearance on Dec. 19, and was released on bond the next day, according to the Indy Star, a local USA Today affiliate.
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