Local News

Gaston Authorities: Child Abuse Case Involving 4-Year-Old Among Worst

Posted August 8, 2005 7:20 a.m. EDT

— Four people are in jail accused of, what Gaston authorities call, one of the worst cases of child abuse they have ever seen.

Authorities said a 4-year-old girl, who was allegedly locked in the attic of her home on Hill Street when she would not sleep, had her face rubbed in vomit and her head flushed in the toilet. The abuse came to light Friday when rescue workers were called to the home after investigators said she was force-fed food and choked.

Gaston Police Sgt. William Lucas was called to Halifax Regional Medical Center after nurses saw what they thought were signs of child abuse so bad that even the nurses treating the girl were crying. Lucas said the girl was bruised and scratched and had a bloody nose.

"There were tears in the nurses' eyes," Lucas said. "Ultimately, I had to catch my breath. The marks on her -- it was child abuse, visible child abuse. It was not a discipline situation. It was child abuse."

The girl's father, Daniel Gibbs, 32; his girlfriend, Phyliss Evans, 49; the child's uncle, Douglas Gibbs, 23; and her grandmother, Mary Gibbs, 59, are charged with felony child abuse. Police say more charges are pending. All are still in jail, each under $50,000 bond.

Gaston police said they suspect the abuse had been going on for months. The child is now being examined for signs of sexual abuse at the TediBear Child Advocacy Center at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

The child's biological mother, Susan Harrison, did not live with the child, but had visitation rights. She said she learned about the alleged child abuse after reading the newspaper.

"To know those people, you wouldn't think about them abusing a 4-year-old baby," Harrison said.

Harrison said the last time her daughter visited her, the little girl did not want to go back to her father's family.

"This was my baby. There's no way to describe how I feel -- I feel numb," said Harrison. "I trusted my daughter around these people and they did this. It's not right -- not to any children. It's not right."

Harrison said she would now like to get back custody of her daughter.