A mother and her boyfriend were arrested after a toddler died from “sickening” abuse, police in Florida say.
Two-year-old Harley Hiatt Jr. died after days of alleged abuse at the hands of Christian Thompson, 26, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Friday.
Thompson is the boyfriend of Hiatt’s mom, Shannon Short, also 26.
The Davenport couple are now facing felony charges for the toddler’s death. Police believe the child was repeatedly hit in the face with a belt, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Harley also suffered a bowel laceration and cerebral hemorrhage, which is believed to be the result of blunt force trauma.
Short allegedly told police that Thompson abused her son repeatedly in his care, specifically over the last two months when Thompson babysat him as Short was at work, according to WFLA.
Short claimed that some of the boy’s injuries were accidental, according to texts exchanged by the two.
“Um ya son tryna kill hisself,” one text allegedly read.
In another, Short allegedly encouraged Thompson to “f--- [Harley] up,” police say.
"When you hear what this precious baby boy was put through, it's sickening. His mother knew about the abuse, allowed it, and continued to leave him in the care of his abuser. She and her boyfriend even joked about it. The whole thing is heartbreaking, and I don't think it's possible for me to be more disgusted by their actions,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at Friday’s presser.
On July 23, Short called 911 claiming her son hadn’t opened his eyes for two days. Police say text messages reveal she was worried that she would be reported to child-protection officials. Seven days later, on July 30, after the mother left her son with Thompson alone she came home to find him on the floor surrounded by vomit. Short didn’t call 911 until his eyes began rolling back into his head that night. He was pronounced dead the next morning.
Thompson has been charged with first-degree murder while Short has been charged with aggravated manslaughter. It's not clear if they have lawyers.
Hiatt would have turned 3 in October.
[Photos: Polk County Sheriff's Office]