Local News

Johnston County Couple Charged in Baby's Death

Posted December 29, 2007

— A Newton Grove woman and her husband have been charged in the death of a 7-month-old who died from "complications of drowning," Johnston County sheriff's authorities said.

Jeffrey Keith Parker and Katherine Strickland, both 26, of 1750 Reedy Prong Church Road, each face a charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 1 death of Strickland's son, Joshua Quinn Tart.

Authorities arrested the couple Friday after receiving the autopsy report, which contradicted the story the couple initially gave to authorities. The report indicated the child died from "complications of drowning."

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Parker and Strickland told authorities they were passing Tart to one another on Oct. 30 when he fell to the floor.

Tart died two days later.

"(They) went to hand the child to the mother, and the child was dropped on the floor," Bizzell said.

At first, they said they dropped the baby in the bathroom, and another time, they said they dropped him in the bedroom, Bizzell said.

"It was a young son's life that was taken, basically at the hands of his mother," Bizzell said.

The boy's grandfather, Ken Tart, told WRAL that he had suspicions about the death, because there were no bruises or injuries on the child that one would expect if he had been dropped.

"I am hurt," he said. "This hurt me worse than anything I have been through in my life.”

Parker and Strickland, who married shortly after the baby's death, were each in the Johnston County Jail Friday night under a $300,000 bond.


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  • Con Amor Dec 31, 2007

    What a sad story! Not too many questions have been answered in the report. How did the child drown? could it have been accidental, or was it pure hate or neglagance! This will be an interesting story to follow. My prayers go out to the family.

  • Nana6 Dec 31, 2007

    Can someone explain to me how this couple can be charged with involuntary manslaughter and not 1st degree murder?
    IF they had dropped the baby....if....then I might can see that charge. but at least one of them DROWNED that little angel....that's a willful act
    Praise the Lord, this little one is with the Lord and will know no more pain or the agony of growing up in this home. I pray this man and woman will come to know the Lord as their Savior before they die

  • NCcountryGirl Dec 30, 2007

    what I don't understand about ANY of these situations where a child is murdered by parents is WHY DON'T THEY JUST TAKE THE CHILDREN TO AN ADOPTION AGENCY OR SOMETHING?!?! They obviously don't love the child if they can just take its life away. Here are some people that would kill just to have a baby that would love it and give it the best life possible and then those sorry people that are killing their kids.

  • justwantjustice Dec 30, 2007

    I want to clear up a few things that some people have gotten confused about. Mr. Tart is not Katherines father. He is the father of Roger Tart, Joshua's father. Thank you all for your comments and concern over this matter. All my family wants is the truth about what happened to baby Joshua and for justice to be served against what ever crime was committed against little Joshua. He was a very special litte baby boy and was very loved by my family and alot of other people also. Rest in peace little man. May you get the justice that you deserve and what ever the truth is I hope that it comes out.

  • hol652 Dec 30, 2007

    I live in the area and it is shocking. I also went to middle school with Katherine. I have not seen her since then. They need a good old a whooping. There should be a "group" that goes and sees such people. Maybe each county should have one of these "groups" and visit people that do such hateful things. After a few examples are made, people may think twice. That should go for everything. Rape, murder, child abuse, whatever. There is no sence in such mess going on. After this whooping, then they can go to court and the state can do whatever they see fit. Everyone knows that such mess is wrong, so if you do it then you deserve anything you get-legal or not. Something needs to be done. This gets more and more common. That little baby didn't ask to be born. If she didn't want the child she should have give it up or not have got pregnant in the first place. There are so many people that cant have children that would love to have little Joshua. Shame on the US for letting this continue.

  • lhjmeme Dec 30, 2007

    whatever happens to these two is not payback enough!!!!!

  • rapture_ready Dec 30, 2007

    Such a sad story. I wish it were not so common. I also agree with Yelena, we most certainly are capable of judging this situation and calling it evil. The "judge not" mantra results from an awful misinterpretation of scripture and has become a terrible perversion of the Christian faith. This same Jesus also asks, "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" (Luke 12:57). The Apostle Paul also asked, "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?" (I Corinthians 6:3)

  • Jermaniac Dec 30, 2007

    I have a 6 month old child and this breaks my heart. I don't even know what to say. Peace be with this child. There are those who love you.

  • faithwalker48 Dec 29, 2007

    My cousin was married to Katherine...she was a raging drug addict and a consumate liar, the only person she has ever cared anything about, is herself. I stronly believe the only reason she and this man married was because married people cannot be made to testify against each other.

    At least now baby Joshua is being rocked in the arms of angels...rest in peace little one...........

  • happymom Dec 29, 2007

    I am hoping that the involuntary manslaughter charge will be upgraded to murder (like it was in the Baby Grace case in Texas). Sometimes these lesser charges are only precursors to the real charge.

    It seems like there have been too many cases of babies being killed by their mothers in this past year. The thing they all seem to have in common is a new boyfriend for the mother that had recently entered the picture.