Local News

Mother, boyfriend charged after boy beaten, cut

Posted November 17, 2008 11:22 a.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2008 4:54 p.m. EST

— A Stedman woman and her boyfriend have been charged with maiming the woman's son, authorities said Monday.

Tonia Michelle Powers, 35, and her live-in boyfriend, Todd Louis Lanford, 34, were arrested Friday. Lanford was being held Monday in the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $35,000 secure bond, while Powers was released after posting a $25,000 bond.

Lanford is charged with assault on a child under 12 years old, malicious maiming, felony child abuse inflicting serious injury, assault by strangulation and communicating a threat. Powers is charged with aiding and abetting a felony and accessory after the fact.

Powers refused to speak with a WRAL News crew Monday, slamming the door to her house and quickly driving off.

Investigators said they received an anonymous complaint about suspected child abuse after the boy hadn't been seen for days at school or around his neighborhood.

They determined the boy had been punched, kicked and choked. They found that the boy has bruises all over his body, including his forehead, eyes, neck, arms, legs and kidney area, and he had strangle marks on his neck.

"The man picked him up with his hands and choked him until he passed out," said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the boy also suffered a 3-inch cut along his genitals and bruises to his groin and pelvic area. The boy wasn't sexually assaulted, they said.

Neighbor Sherrie Hunt said the boy and his mother moved in a couple of years ago.

"It makes me furious, especially knowing I live next door, you know, because we've always had good neighbors and it's a good neighborhood," Hunt said. "I've heard her cussing at him. My neighbors have heard her cussing at him before, being a little rough with him, but I've never seen her hit him or anything."

The Department of Social Services has assumed custody of the boy, and he will remain there until Cumberland County detectives complete their investigation of the case, authorities said.

"I really don't know what kind of situation she's in to have to treat her son like that, but it's pitiful. I really feel sorry for her, and I hope that she would find God," Hunt said.