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Adoptive mother convicted in boy's death

Posted June 12, 2008

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— A Johnston County woman who beat and terrorized her children for years was convicted Thursday in the death of her 4-year-old adopted son.

Jurors deliberated about 2½ hours before finding Lynn Paddock guilty of first-degree murder and felony child abuse in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of Sean Paddock. The jury determined the case qualified for first-degree murder as both torture and a murder carried out during a separate felony.

Authorities said Sean was bound so tightly in blankets that he suffocated. Defense attorneys maintain that the boy's death was accidental and that Paddock's actions were a form of discipline, not abuse.

Paddock, 47, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. The murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Assistant Johnston County District Attorney Paul Jackson said he was pleased with the verdict but called the case "a tragedy all around."

"This was about a 4-year-old boy named Sean who lost his life, so there's nothing to celebrate," Jackson said.

Jurors declined to comment as they left the Johnston County Courthouse.

Johnny Paddock, who adopted Sean and five other children with Lynn Paddock, said he agreed with the verdict.

"I think justice was served. I think they came up with the right verdict," he said.

Johnny Paddock wasn't charged in the case and has said he was unaware of the abuse. He divorced Lynn Paddock last year while she was in jail awaiting trial.

Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins said during the sentencing that he didn't believe Johnny Paddock's claims, saying Lynn Paddock's ex-husband "does not qualify as a parent in any sense of the word."

Prosecutors have said they didn't have enough evidence to charge Johnny Paddock.

Sean's biological family, which is suing the agencies that placed the boy with the Paddocks, said in a statement that they still have questions about how abuse of several children could have been overlooked for so long.

"We can only say that we draw some degree of satisfaction from knowing that Sean's death has not been forgotten or overlooked. Too many children suffer from abuse at the hands of their caregivers, and too often no one ever knows," the statement said.

The six surviving Paddock children testified during the three-week trial that Lynn Paddock beat them almost daily with flexible plastic rods, wooden spoons and other devices. She also forced them to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, controlled what they ate and when they went to the bathroom and denied them contact with other children and adults.

A forensic pediatrician described the abuse as "ritualistic torture" that was rooted in Lynn Paddock's obsessive need for control.

Jackson said the state "stepped in to end the cycle of violence" but said the abuse would likely affect the Paddock children for the rest of their lives.

A psychologist who examined Lynn Paddock said he didn't believe she meant to harm her children. An abusive childhood had left her with poor decision-making skills, he said, and she likely turned elsewhere for guidance in how best to discipline her children.

Lynn Paddock wept on the witness stand as she told jurors how she was reared by an abusive mother and winding up in foster care.

She also sobbed as she recounted Sean's death and said she would gladly have traded places with him. But she denied some of the more graphic charges leveled against her by the children, such as forcing them to eat feces and wrapping their heads in duct tape to keep them quiet.

In addition to the life sentence for murder, Jenkins sentenced her to 73 to 97 months in prison on the felony child abuse conviction. Her attorneys argued against the sentence, saying it was unnecessary because of the murder conviction.

Lynn Paddock shook her head as she was taken into custody and led from the courtroom. She was taken to the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • sqstroublemaker Jun 16, 8:43 a.m.

    Johnny Paddock would have been charged had he been a birth parent. As to those who are wondering where Sean's birth family was, look at all the reports and news stories where the birth family was literally SCREAMING to have Sean and his siblings placed with them for DSS to constantly shut the door in their faces, refusing to allow any member of the birth family custody of these children.

    Don't be so quick to judge the birth families as only wanting to profit from the death of a "child they threw away." Too often these families are refused and denied custody for the simple fact that they are members of the birth family, which costs DSS funds, where as if a non-relative gets custody, DSS receives State and Fed funding.

    Fight to change the system, stop blaming the birth families or spread the blame around to all parties responsible for the children not being with the birth family.

  • pebbles262004 Jun 13, 10:14 a.m.


  • SunnyDays Jun 13, 8:00 a.m.

    If she was in fact abused, I am sorry for that, however I feel like justice has been served.

  • iron fist Jun 13, 7:59 a.m.

    Sallie, you should have known someone would sue. I agree with you where were the family members when he needed a home. Now they want to benefit from his death. That is wrong. Any money they might get should go to the remaining children.

  • Sallie Jun 13, 7:53 a.m.

    Where was Sean's biological family when he and his sibblings needed a home?? They didn't give them a home But now they are suing for MONEY!!

  • lauraleigh Jun 12, 8:14 p.m.

    If she was abused as a child she should know how much that hurts not only physically but mentally also. Why would she inflict that kind of pain on a child.

    I would suspect because she'd not seen a better system for raising kids modeled for her. A lot of us who were raised with (excessive) corporal punishment see parents who insist all spanking is wrong simply use that as an excuse for lazy and irresponsible neglect of their children's behavior.

    I feel terribly sorry for this woman. What she did was terrible, and I suppose she deserves the punishment given to her. But her heart and soul must be badly damaged, and I am sorry for her, as much as I am for the children.

  • dont-be-a-hater Jun 12, 5:13 p.m.

    Dr Dataclerk....You can not tell us that MR. Johnny did not know what was going on...PLEEZZE....he knew. You can torture kids like that constantly and not know what's going on. For what ever reason he chose not to do anything about it- or maybe he was happy she was doing it and keeping them "quite"~

    Glad to hear that she will be there for the rest of her life and maybe the authorities will be watching him closely in the future if he has any contact with children.

  • dxedame Jun 12, 5:03 p.m.

    FYI ---
    This is the email for JC Dept. of Social Service.
    If it does not work from this page - you get the idea.

  • 007KnightRider Jun 12, 5:02 p.m.

    Fantastic news justice has been served.

  • 1Packfan Jun 12, 4:47 p.m.

    Good. Justice served! She will never have the opportunity to torture kids again. I question how the state allowed her to continue adopting kids.