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Adopted boy 'stiff as board' when paramedics arrived

Posted May 27, 2008

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— A former Smithfield paramedic on Tuesday said it was  eerily quiet when he arrived at a Johnston County farmhouse where a 4-year-old boy died two years ago.

Lynn Paddock, 47, is charged with murder in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of her adopted son, Sean. Investigators said Sean suffocated after she wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from wandering around the house at night.

Defense attorneys insist the death was accidental, not punishment or discipline.

Paramedic Chris Credle testified Tuesday afternoon that Sean was "stiff as a board" when he arrived at the Paddock house in response to a 911 call. That indicated the child had been dead for some time, he said.

"I knew I couldn't do anything for him," Credle said, choking up when he was asked to identify a picture of Sean.

The atmosphere inside the Paddock house was odd, he said.

"In the other room, we could hear whispers," he said. "Usually, there's a whole lot of commotion going on, but there was (none) that morning."

When asked about Lynn Paddock, Credle testified that she passed briefly through the room while he worked on Sean. Later, she sat with her arms crossed or hands clenched at the hospital, he said.

"It was almost like they were getting tighter and tighter so you could see the whites of her knuckles," he said. "She was very straight (and) angry – just mad."

Credle's testimony came after a week of pre-trial maneuvering by prosecutors and defense attorneys in Paddock's murder trial.

Earlier Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins ruled that three other adopted children couldn't be shielded from Paddock when they testify against her.

Prosecutors were seeking to allow David Vorenkamp, Hannah Paddock and Kayla Paddock testify from a separate Johnston County Courthouse room that would be connected by closed-circuit television to the courtroom where Lynn Paddock is on trial.

Jenkins said he didn't want to risk any video testimony being overturned on appeal, forcing the children to have to testify at a second trial. Instead, he agreed to allow a guardian to stand in the witness box with the children as they testify.

Lynn and Johnny Paddock adopted six children from the mid-1990s to 2005, when Sean, David and Hannah – biological siblings – were placed with the family.

Two older adopted children and Johnny Paddock's daughter from a previous marriage testified last week that Lynn Paddock habitually abused all of the children for years. She beat them, had them run in place or jump on a trampoline for hours, forced them to sit in their urine and at least twice shoved feces in the mouths of younger children, they testified.

Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician who has evaluated all of the Paddock children in recent months, said Tuesday that facing Lynn Paddock in court would be frightening for the younger children. All five of the surviving adopted children suffer post-traumatic stress, she said.

Hannah Paddock, for example, has devised a "safety plan" for dealing with he emotions if she were to see Lynn Paddock again, Cooper said. David Vorenkamp, who has since been adopted by another family, has a habit of wringing his hands and crying, she said, while Kayla Paddock bites and stabs at herself.

Prosecutors also noted that Tami Paddock, one of the older children who testified last week, suffered a breakdown after her testimony. It was unclear how severe the episode was.

Down the hall from the trial, an adoption agency asked for a civil lawsuit filed by Sean Paddock's biological family to be moved to Wake County. The boy's grandfather filed a wrongful death suit against the agency, the state and Wake County Social Services offices in February.

There was no ruling Tuesday on the request.


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  • diver May 28, 2008

    as a pediatric respiratory therapist it sounds as if readytogo has just enough knowledge to be ignorant.

  • oconneygirl May 27, 2008

    GALNC - well said!!

  • GALNC May 27, 2008

    Readytogo -- Obviously, you are not a paramedic or understand that they need to assess even if the person appears stiff has a board. Don't you remember the guy who was bagged, but still alive. Paramedics/First Responders/Fire/Police put their lives on the line everyday. Ask any paramedic about trying to drive a ambulance when a idiot cuts them off or crosses in front of flashing lights/siren. They will always take the time to assess/work everyone. Do you really think that the Paramedic wasn't affected by what he saw and testified to?? These people are heroes to our community are almost always second guessed by idiots with no medical training or those who may have it, but in a different field. The EMS field is one which is highly skilled, but low paid like other emergency personnel...and you don't do it for the money...but to make a difference. The hardest thing they see is death and a child is even harder to handle. Put yourself in their shoes..it's not a easy job.

  • oconneygirl May 27, 2008

    Any situation is difficult for emergency personnel, I am thankful that there are people out there that are trained and willing to do such wonderful work. I believe that miracles still happen and this particular EMT could have been hoping and praying for a miracle. If any nasty comments should be made make them about the evil women that caused this child's death and the suffering of several other children that were put in her care.

  • Eduardo1 May 27, 2008

    reaqdytogo..........only hope that you never need an early responder. If you even ad a clue as to the personal time and expenses that these fantastic people to any community that they volunteer to help. Holidays, nights, days, weekends. Often going in to situations like fires, disease, rioting. I could write praise for hours about" firefighters, EMT, and other first responders, but I think that even a closed minded person such as yourself must get my message.

  • For-Better-Or-Worse May 27, 2008


    Lay off the paramedic. Any code situation is difficult especially a child. I am glad to know he did everything possible even if it wasn't possible to resusitate the child. Oh, and for the record most "lay people" don't know what rigor mortis is.

    If you have nasty comments make them about the monster that killed the child and tortured the others, not those that tried to help.

  • Fx432 May 27, 2008

    Paramedic Chris Credle testified Tuesday afternoon that Sean was "stiff as a board" when he arrived.

    Then, why in the world would you work this child if he was "stiff as a board." Sounds like the paramedic has trouble controlling an emergency scene. For the laypeople, "stiff as a board" indicates death for several hours, an indication CPR is uncalled for. Nothing would bring this child back and in fact, working someone this long after death boarders on desecration, not to mention destroying potential important evidence. EMS needs to get out of this mind set that you need to work them because they are children. As tragic as it is, death happens and "stiff as a board" is a pretty good clinical indicator of un-resuscitative death. By the way, rigor mortis sounds much more professional.

  • fbguru May 27, 2008

    Sure hope this woman receives the maximum sentence (which she will get in the grand scheme of things, when she meets her Maker). I wish they could punish her the way she abused those kids BEFORE they execute her. Televise it so all the other "bad eggs" in the foster/adoption system can watch. I would gladly volunteer to carry out the execution myslef, no taxpayers' money necessary!

  • Adelinthe May 27, 2008

    Both the prosecutor and the defender have the right to cross examine any witness, and sad so this be, the judge just wants to make sure this woman finds justice and doesn't skirt away like so many in the past have.

    What we need to do now is pray for these children who have already faced so much, pray for their healing and for their strength to do what needs to be done to hang this woman who brought so much terror into their lives and killed their little brother.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • blondton13 May 27, 2008

    While I comprehend the judge's worry about the testimony having to be repeated, I still see no reason for those children to have to face her in the courtroom. She sounds like an evil woman and they have been away from her for 2 years already. I give them kudos for having the guts to testify...the court should protect them from having to face this animal once more - especially if they are still showing signs of post traumatic stress.
    Isn't it our job to protect the children from further harm and stress? Apparently we failed the child that is now dead...why subject the other children to this monster???

    Ridiculous. No wonder I have no faith in our system.