Local News

ER doc, SBI agent back up children's claims of abuse

Posted June 3, 2008

— An emergency room physician, a State Bureau of Investigation agent and a former social worker testified Tuesday in the murder trial of a Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son.

Lynn Paddock, 47, is charged with murder in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of Sean Paddock. 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.

The six surviving Paddock children – five whom Lynn Paddock and her then-husband, Johnny Paddock, adopted and his daughter from an earlier marriage – testified over the past week that Lynn Paddock abused them almost daily for years. Children were beaten with a variety of objects, were forced to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, were required to ask permission to use the bathroom and were denied contact with people outside the family, they said.

The abuse escalated as more children were adopted, reaching a peak after foster care workers placed Sean and his biological brother and sister with the family in 2005, the children said.

Dr. Benjamin Winter, an emergency room physician at Johnston Memorial Hospital, examined the four youngest Paddock children shortly after Sean's death and testified Tuesday that they had multiple bruises and other physical marks consistent with abuse.

"All the children said they were beaten by their mother with a whipping stick," Winter said.

Former social worker Heather Binder, who interviewed the Paddock children at the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, said she also noticed marks of abuse and signs of malnourishment in David Vorenkamp, Sean's biological brother who has since been adopted by another family.

"He was extremely thin, the thinnest I've ever seen a child," Binder said. "There was just no life behind his eyes. He seemed to be a very sad child. He seemed very withdrawn."

She said she called Johnny Paddock in to explain where the bruises came from.

"Mr. Paddock looked down at the marks, and he just became very emotional. (He) sort of hung his head, and he said, 'David, I am so sorry,'" she said.

Janie Pinkston Sutton, an SBI special agent, testified that she interviewed Jessy and Tami Paddock six weeks after Sean died and heard the same stories of abuse from them that they have told jurors in recent days. Jessy Paddock is Lynn Paddock's stepdaughter, while Tami Paddock is the oldest of the adopted children.

"I had not interviewed any children who had been in a home for that length of time that exposed them to that amount of and kind of abuse," Sutton said.

Jessy and Tami Paddock have been granted immunity from prosecution, since they were adults in the home at the time of Sean's death and during part of the abuse the children have described.


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 4, 2008

    Her lawyer must be heartless as well to defend her.

    To be a good lawyer you have to be able to do anything for money.

    All criminal are entitled to a lawyer, that is the law. A lawyer is there for you if you ever need one. This is not saying how a lawyer feel about a case. Many times the courts appoints the lawyer to the case. Don't ever be your on lawyer, that would not be the smart thing to do. I believe you already knew that. So think before you type.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 4, 2008

    I believe the Social Services failed the children. Had they done their job of checking everything out, maybe a child would not have lost its life and there would not have been abused children. I also believe she had to many children to care for. Yes, the father was there and knew what was going on and did nothing to stop the abuse. Both should be charged.

  • dogmama Jun 4, 2008

    There's no way that the husband did not know this was going on. He should be arrested as an accessory. If he had turned her in, it may have saved that little boy. He is just as bad for going along with the abuse by denying knowledge of it.

  • teacher-mom Jun 3, 2008

    I do not think she is going to get out of this. That jury would have to be paid to find her innocent of these crimes.

  • klcmomof2 Jun 3, 2008

    Cases like these are why the death penalty should still be in use.

  • richard2 Jun 3, 2008

    To be a good lawyer you have to be able to do anything for money.

  • anneonymousone Jun 3, 2008

    Maybe this will help those who want to attack defense attorneys; A. If I'm accused of something and am innocent, do I want someone to help me find my way through the legalese so the truth has a chance? Absolutely! B. If someone is guilty, do we want there to be loopholes in their trials that would allow for lots of appeals or a trial that is so poorly coordinated that the person gets off scot-free? Absolutely not!

    Defense attorneys make positive outcomes in both scenarios possible.

  • Corvus Jun 3, 2008

    Jack O'Hale will probably get her off. He can get a DWI against you dropped, if you live in Johnston County.

  • happy Jun 3, 2008

    Jack Hale loves cases like this. He defended a woman that was in a shaken baby case (babysitter). He's good too. Don't be surprised if this woman gets off. There is a lot the jury probably isn't hearing.

  • iron fist Jun 3, 2008

    It is the lawyers job. If lawyers would not represent someone they didn't like or may be guilty there would be no lawyers. Cannot have a justice system without them. Like them or not they are needed,