In Detroit this week, two toddlers, Ella Stafford, 15 months old, and Jonathon Sanderlin, 13 months old, were found dead in a bathtub. Their father said they drowned.
When the first reports appeared -- after wiping away the tears of shock and sorrow -- one suspected it was no accident, but didn't want to believe it.
Now, according to the toddlers' mothers, the medical examiner has confirmed the suspicions -- it was murder, and a horrific, heartbreaking murder at that.
The details are gruesome and painful, but the most outrageous part is that their deaths could have been prevented.
The babies weren't just left alone to drown, they were scalded by hot water, their skin burned off.
"Her skin was burnt off from scalding hot water," said Taylor Stafford, Ella's mother.
"His face is just so bad," said Sarah McGee, Jonathon's mother.
I can't imagine the pain of a mother knowing that was how her baby spent the final few minutes of life.
But I also can't imagine how she could allow it to happen.
Both mothers say they knew he was dangerous and repeatedly called Child Protective Services but they did nothing. But these women knew, and still they left their children with him?
"I knew he was going to torture him from the beginning because it was already starting off in small things like beating on him, suffocating him with pillows," McGee said.
I would go to prison for the rest of my life before I would leave my child with someone who had tried to suffocate or beat him. I would camp out in front of Child Protective Services until they listened, kidnap my child, flee the country, something, anything other than leave him with someone who I "knew ... was going to torture him."
The man, Steven Nicholson, hasn't been charged yet, but if what the mothers claim is true, he should be punished as severely as he treated his own babies.
But what of the mothers? While no one ever wants to blame the victims, shouldn't there be some repercussions there too for not preventing what they "knew" could happen?
R.I.P. Ella and Jonathon.
Do you think the mothers should be charged in this case as well?
Image via freep.com