Mother said wrapping boy in blanket was God's idea
Posted June 2, 2008 1:14 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2008 9:24 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — A Johnston County woman said God told her to bind her 4-year-old adopted son in a blanket at night, a practice that authorities said killed the boy two years ago.
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.
Lynn Paddock told her stepdaughter shortly before Sean's death that she was having trouble with him getting out of bed at night, the stepdaughter, Jessy Paddock, testified Monday.
"She said, 'I’ve really been praying about this, about what to do about Sean playing at night,' and she said, 'I think God has given me an answer.' She said, 'I am going to start wrapping him like I wrapped Kayla,'" Jessy Paddock said.
Kayla was another of the six children Lynn Paddock and her then-husband, Johnny Paddock, adopted between the mid-1990s and 2005, when foster care workers placed Sean and his biological brother and sister with the family.
Two weeks before Sean died, Lynn Paddock used another method to try to keep him quiet at night, Jessy Paddock said.
"I witnessed Sean once with duct tape wrapped all the way around his head several times. I was told it was because he was making too much noise at night," she said.
Lynn Paddock wrapped Sean tightly in blankets five times, including the night he died, Jessy Paddock said. At times, Lynn Paddock put a piece of furniture on top of him to keep him from moving, she said.
The morning of Sean's death, Jessy Paddock called 911and said she was talking her stepmother through performing CPR on Sean when Lynn Paddock stopped resuscitation efforts to change the boy's clothes.
Lynn Paddock cried as prosecutors played a tape of the 911 call in court Monday.
Jessy Paddock also recalled one of the first conversations with her stepmother after Sean's death.
"I remember her saying, 'Well, I just think he just got really angry and had a heart attack. I think that's what happened to him,'" she testified. "I remember her looking at me and saying, 'What do I do?'"
Jessy and Kayla Paddock and the other surviving children have testified over the past week about Lynn Paddock abusing them almost daily during those years. Children were beaten with a variety of objects, were forced to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, were required to ask permission to use the bathroom and were denied contact with people outside the family, they testified.
The abuse escalated as more children were adopted, reaching a peak after Sean and his siblings came to live in the Paddocks' farmhouse near Smithfield, the children said.
Prosecutors introduced a large wooden spoon, flexible plastic rods and a small trampoline into evidence Monday. The children said Lynn Paddock used the spoon and the rods to beat them and used the trampoline to punish children for not sitting still.
"There were days when Kayla would jump on (the trampoline) all day, with bathroom breaks and she could stop to eat for a little while," Jessy Paddock said.
In the fall of 2005, Lynn Paddock was trying to become pregnant and frequently told her stepdaughter of her efforts, Jessy Paddock said.
"It was almost like an obsession that was just about all she would talk about to me," she said. "The children became almost less important, they kind of took a back burner. Her whole focus now was having a baby."
Lynn Paddock told Tami Paddock, the oldest of the adopted children, that she felt trapped by her family situation and was tired and frustrated. The telephone conversation occurred four months ago and was recorded in the Johnston County Jail, where Lynn Paddock was being held before trial.
Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins refused to allow the jury to hear the taped conversation.
Both Tami and Jessy Paddock have been granted immunity from prosecution, since they were adults in the home at the time of Sean's death and during part of the abuse the children have described.