Local News

Some Say Accused Child Killer Showed Recent Signs of Strain

Posted September 24, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A 26-year-old woman is charged with what is, for most people, an unthinkable crime: beating her 3-year-old son to death. What makes it only worse, her family says the tragedy could have been prevented.

WRAL TV5'sAmanda Lambspent time with some of Sharon Bradshaw's family members. Lamb was told that about 10 days ago, relatives alerted Cumberland County mental health representatives that Bradshaw was having some problems. Monday, the day of the crime, Bradshaw's mother visited Bradshaw's probation officer that Bradshaw needed help. Bradshaw has been on probation for several years following an arson incident.

Later the same day, Bradshaw's other two children called their grandmother to say their mother needed help, but despite these repeated attempts to intervene, deputies arrived at Bradshaw's mobile home Monday to find her youngest son dead.

Bradshaw was taken to Dorothea Dix Hospital Tuesday for a mental health evaluation. Since she was found bloody and wandering on a dirt road Monday night, she has appeared disoriented and detached from her surroundings. Investigators say there's a good reason for that.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said a deputy entered the trailer, looked around and entered the bathroom, where he discovered the 3-year-old's body.

Family members began answering detectives' questions at noon Tuesday and continued throughout the afternoon.

Detectives say they are weary at the prospect of having to investigate yet another murder of a child. Cumberland County deputies had to deal with another, similar, case less than a week ago.

Butler says it's been a rough week in his office.

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A spokesperson for the probation office says they tried to contact Bradshaw, but she hung up on them. They then consulted with the mental health department, which said her family would have to have Bradshaw committed if that was what was necessary.

A relative who was caring for Bradshaw's two surviving children told Lamb Tuesday that the woman was unable to take care of herself. She should not, he said, have been taking care of her children.