Children hid abuse from social workers, adoptive father
Posted May 29, 2008 11:12 a.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2008 9:30 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — The children of a Johnston County woman accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son were so fearful of reprisals that they lied to social workers about the daily abuse they suffered, one of the children said Thursday.
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.
Three of the six children Lynn Paddock and her then-husband, Johnny Paddock, adopted between the mid-1990s and 2005, including Sean's biological brother and sister, testified Wednesday that Lynn Paddock beat them almost every day. She also made them jump on a trampoline or sit cross-legged facing a wall for hours, isolated them from other children and adults, wouldn't let them use the bathroom without permission and forced one to eat feces as a punishment, they said.
"We weren't allowed to talk to each other unless she was standing right there beside us," Ray Paddock, another adopted son, testified Thursday.
"What would happen if you didn't follow her rules?" a prosecutor asked.
"She would duct tape your mouth shut," he answered.
Ray Paddock, 17, said the abuse escalated as more children were adopted, and he and the other children were so terrified of Lynn Paddock that they regularly lied to social workers who visited the family's farmhouse near Smithfield, telling them that they were well-treated.
"I knew if I answered something wrong, I'd get in trouble," he said.
The children also hid the abuse from Johnny Paddock, fearing Lynn Paddock would beat them even more if he found out, Ray Paddock said.
"I was afraid one day she would fly off the handle and kill somebody during one of her beatings," he said.
On the day Sean died, he said, Lynn Paddock showed no emotion while everyone else in the family cried.
"(It was) just like a goat or a dog had died," he said.
Because they were afraid of Lynn Paddock, he said, the children didn't talk with authorities investigating Sean's death.
Paramedics who responded to a 911 call at the Paddock house the morning Sean died and Johnston County deputies who investigated the death have said the children were unusually quiet throughout the incident. They also said Lynn Paddock appeared angry at their asking her questions and asked if she needed a lawyer.