The Richmond Register

November 4, 2011

Couple indicted for criminal abuse

Allegedly locked children in a feces-covered room

By Kelly McKinney
Register staff report

RICHMOND — A Richmond couple accused of locking their two toddlers in a room covered in their own feces were indicted Wednesday by a Madison grand jury.

The indictment on charges of first-degree criminal abuse means the case against Stewart M. and Jennifer A. Shuman, both 23, will proceed through circuit court.

The Shumans, of Mt. Rusher Drive, were arrested Sept. 8 when Richmond police officers discovered their two children, ages 2 and 3, were locked in a bedroom “which was covered from floor to ceiling with feces from both children,” according to the arresting officer’s complaint.

The children could not escape from the room because the door was “tied together with a bungee cord,” the complaint reads.

Jennifer Shuman told the officer the bedroom had been covered in excrement for about one week, according to the complaint.

At the time the children were found in the locked room, they both had numerous bruises, and the two-year-old’s arms were covered with bite marks, the complaint states.

The couple allegedly told officers they had locked the boys in the room because they could not control them, and that the bruises were the result of the two children fighting each other.

The toddlers were placed with Social Services after their parents’ arrest.

When the couple appeared Sept. 21 in Madison District Court, Judge Brandy Brown refused to lower their bonds, saying the charges were violent and too serious.

Brown added that Jennifer Shuman was “perhaps a danger to the community and perhaps to herself.”

According to the indictment, the couple are guilty of “causing torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment” to their toddlers.

Both parents are being held in the Madison County Detention Center under $50,000 cash bonds. Both will face two counts of first-degree criminal abuse, a Class C felony.

An indictment is a formal statement of charges and does not imply guilt.

Kelly McKinney can be reached at kmckinney@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.