A waitress at an Olive Garden in Paducah, Kentucky, noticed a family of four behaving suspiciously and kicked off a chain of events that would land two parents in jail for alleged child abuse.
“The baby was sitting in a highchair with a blanket over her head,” Jordan Cooper, 21 told Yahoo, about the March 3 encounter. “When the blanket came off, her face had a lot of black-and-blue bruises.”
Cooper added that the man at the table, presumably the child's father, was particularly aggressive.
“He shoved breadsticks into her mouth and said, ‘You’d better eat this’ and got in her face while she whimpered,” she continued.
Enlisting the help of a nearby table and her co-workers, Cooper managed to capture photos of the bizarre scene. But when the family noticed they'd attracted attention, they attempted to pay as fast as possible and flee.
Cooper took down the license plate number of the family's vehicle and immediately called 911. Then, Cooper turned to Facebook for help in tracking them down.
“I immediately got home and plugged my phone up,” Cooper said to WPSD, a Paducah, Kentucky-based news organization. “I could not just not know what was going to happen to her.”
Cooper's since-deleted Facebook post garnered more than 14,000 shares.
Tips from Cooper's friends, including a Metropolis 911 operator named Aaron Caldwell, led to the arrest of Jessica Woodworth and Mark Lee Pierce, who have since been charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.
The infant was sent to an emergency room where she was treated for injuries. There, the 20-month-old baby and an 11-year-old girl were taken into Department of Children's Services custody.
“I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so worried,” Cooper said. “It makes me feel good to know these children will be better off.”
Both Pierce and Woodworth are in jail on a bond of $200,000.
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