VERSAILLES - A Morgan County couple was charged Friday in the death of a Stover child after they allegedly tried to conceal a fatal beating by staging a fake hit and run accident.
On Friday afternoon, Jamie Litton, 25, Stover, was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the Thursday morning death of her son, Blake Litton, 3.
Earlier Friday, Litton's boyfriend, Thomas Presley, 21, Stover, was charged with second-degree murder in the case. He was arrested Thursday afternoon, as officials continued investigating the boy's death.
Authorities first were told the child was struck by a hit-and-run driver around 5:10 a.m. Thursday along Missouri 135. But, authorities said, Presley was questioned further because of "inconsistencies at the scene" and the "violent trauma" to the boy's head and torso.
Investigators said they believe Presley staged the hit-and-run to cover up a beating. A Morgan County Sheriff's Department probable cause statement alleged the beating occurred around 2:30 a.m. Thursday at a Stover residence.
In the probable cause statement, Presley said he became enraged at the child for soiling himself and began to beat the child. He told investigators, "I really beat him bad this time."
Presley said he struck the boy more times than he could remember with an open hand, using the heel of his hand. Presley also said he kicked the child several times, blacking out as he continued to beat the child.
Presley told investigators he placed the boy in bed after the beating, believing he would be fine. About 30 minutes later, Presley said, he heard a loud noise in the kitchen and found the unresponsive child on the floor.
Presley said he knew the child was injured badly and appeared to be gasping for breath as his eyes were rolled back in his head.
Presley, who said he thought the child was paralyzed, placed the child in his vehicle and went to the mother's workplace. He said he told Litton he beat her son badly and felt he overdid it.
Presley said he then began to drive toward Sedalia, heading to the hospital for treatment. But, he said, he realized the child was deceased and called the emergency medical service.
An autopsy revealed the boy died as a result of multiple injuries, including a lacerated liver and a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. Bruises and lacerations were visible on the boy's head, neck, torso, buttocks, legs and arms.
In the sheriff's probable cause statement about Litton's involvement in the case, she told investigators she had text conversations earlier Thursday with Presley, who told her he had beaten Blake and that he was in "bad shape."
She also said Presley texted her that he couldn't take Blake to the emergency room because, if he did, he (Presley) would go to prison for the rest of his life.
Litton, who did not advise her co-workers of her son's injuries, asked to leave her workplace, Golden Age Care Center in Versailles.
But she was not allowed to leave.
She said Presley eventually drove to her workplace and told her he would "fake" a car accident in order to get medical treatment for Blake and avoid prison for himself.
Presley and Litton met outside her workplace where, she said, they both cried.
She said Blake was peaceful, sitting in his booster seat in the car, but she barely could find a pulse on him, and his breathing was weak.
The statement reported she yelled Blake's name, but he didn't respond.
Litton told investigators she thought Presley was going to the emergency room when he left, and she went back to work.
At around 5:15 a.m., Litton said Presley texted her, saying that Blake had been hit by a car. Litton clocked out of work, walked to her residence and then rode to the scene of the fake accident.
She did not tell anyone about Blake's injuries from the beating, when she spoke to law officers at the accident scene.
During the investigation, Blake's younger sister was examined, and bruising was visible above a healing hematoma on the top of her head, and her left wrist was broken.
The girl told examiners that her "daddy" caused her injuries.
Litton later told investigators the girl's injuries were caused by Presley over the course of the last two weeks, and that Presley had "spanked" the girl and Blake as discipline.
The girl also said Presley punched Blake in the mouth because he "pooped."
Presley told investigators Thursday afternoon he was sorry for what he had done and would take it back if he could. He said he and Litton had been having relationship trouble and he felt she was cheating on him.
Morgan County Sheriff Jim Petty told reporters in a news conference Friday afternoon the investigation is continuing and more charges against Presley are possible.
"I've never had a child abuse case like this in my 10 years as sheriff," he said.
Petty said he had talked with several officials and agencies, including state Rep. Rodney Schad, R-Versailles, about this case and what more can be done to avoid such tragedies.
"I feel like somewhere we dropped the ball," he said. "I'm not out trying to head-hunt. Hopefully, we can improve the system now. It's what we have to do."
Petty added: "I am glad we can get some justice for this boy."
Earlier coverage, posted at 4:54 p.m.:
A Morgan County couple has been charged in the death of a three-year old boy.
Friday afternoon, Jamie Litton, 25, Stover, was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of her son, Blake Litton.
Earlier in the day, Litton's boyfriend, Thomas Presley, 21, Stover, was also charged with second-degree murder in this same case.
Authorities were first told Blake was struck by a hit-and-run driver along Missouri 135, early Thursday morning. But Presley was questioned further because of "inconsistencies at the scene" and the "violent trauma" to Blake's "head and torso."
Investigators said they believe Presley staged the hit-and-run to cover up a beating.