New Details About Toddler Death Make Us More Sympathetic to the Boyfriend

eric hicksBlame for the death of a toddler in Joplin, Missouri, has fallen squarely on the mother's boyfriend who left the toddler in a crib in order to get a methadone treatment. Toddlers should never be left alone! This has been the outcry since the story surfaced, and it's obviously true. But if you watch the comments section in The Joplin Globe, a fuller picture of this story emerges.

One question I've had ever since the story came out is: Where was the toddler's mother, and why did she leave her baby with a man who was possibly recovering from a heroin addiction, as implied by his methadone treatment? In the comments section, a woman describing herself as the toddler's grandmother says the mother was at a mental hospital at the time. Reading the ensuing conversation raised more and more questions for me, but one thing seems clear: The boyfriend, Eric Hicks, may not be the only person responsible for this tragedy.


The grandmother, Diana Mcbride, spills the beans early into the conversation. After revealing sensitive details about her daughter's whereabouts, she says, "There are things that should remain private," and urges everyone to pray and wait for the autopsy report to come out. She also reveals that she had lived with the toddler, his mother, and either the father or the boyfriend (it's not clear in her comments, and they were not the same person). But then she had to travel 2,500 miles away to care for her own mother, who had a broken back.

Another relative steps forward as the toddler's great-aunt. "I was there when Emjay came into this world, he also lived with us a while." She goes on to say that the toddler's mother had moved away from family who could have helped her. It sounds like the toddler had a network of extended family that had stepped in with support from time to time but, at the time of the tragedy, were notably absent.

So this isn't just about one man making a foolish decision. This is about an entire family in crisis -- a family that looks a lot like many other families in this country.

If you were in crisis, would you be able to rely on your family to avoid a similar tragedy?


Image via KTTS

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