Local News

Johnston County Couple Charged in Baby's Death

Posted December 29, 2007 12:26 a.m. EST
Updated December 29, 2007 7:12 p.m. EST

— A Newton Grove woman and her husband have been charged in the death of a 7-month-old who died from "complications of drowning," Johnston County sheriff's authorities said.

Jeffrey Keith Parker and Katherine Strickland, both 26, of 1750 Reedy Prong Church Road, each face a charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 1 death of Strickland's son, Joshua Quinn Tart.

Authorities arrested the couple Friday after receiving the autopsy report, which contradicted the story the couple initially gave to authorities. The report indicated the child died from "complications of drowning."

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Parker and Strickland told authorities they were passing Tart to one another on Oct. 30 when he fell to the floor.

Tart died two days later.

"(They) went to hand the child to the mother, and the child was dropped on the floor," Bizzell said.

At first, they said they dropped the baby in the bathroom, and another time, they said they dropped him in the bedroom, Bizzell said.

"It was a young son's life that was taken, basically at the hands of his mother," Bizzell said.

The boy's grandfather, Ken Tart, told WRAL that he had suspicions about the death, because there were no bruises or injuries on the child that one would expect if he had been dropped.

"I am hurt," he said. "This hurt me worse than anything I have been through in my life.”

Parker and Strickland, who married shortly after the baby's death, were each in the Johnston County Jail Friday night under a $300,000 bond.