A Castleton couple, one of whom is charged with attempted capital murder for what authorities say was an attempt to starve to death one of their two children, now faces a felony charge of cruelty to a child, according to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office.
Brenda Holly Lyons-Lenchick, 39, and Joseph Anthony Lenchick, 46, remain in custody at Rappahannock County Jail, both charged last week with child abuse and neglect, also a felony. They are scheduled to be arraigned next Thursday (June 28) on the new child cruelty charge, and face a tentative hearing on all charges Aug. 9.
Sheriff Connie C. Smith said on Monday that the children – a three-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and a three-month old boy – are in the hands of a Rappahannock County Department of Social Services (DSS) foster home. The mother’s alleged plan to starve and bury the younger child, who was born with a cleft lip and palate on March 16, were detailed in a search warrant affidavit filed with the Rappahannock County Circuit Court Clerk on May 30. The new charge concerns the parents’ alleged treatment of the younger child, Smith said; she would not comment further.
According to investigator Capt. J.C. Welch, who filed the affidavit, his investigation followed a report a day earlier from a DSS child protective services worker that the infant weighed less than its birth weight not quite three months later, and that pediatricians at University of Virginia Medical Center found he was gaining weight when fed properly, and had concluded that his failure to thrive was “due to his parents’ neglect to either properly feed, or feed . . . at all.”
The search warrant affidavit went on to say that Lyons-Lenchick told investigators that her husband recently lost his job, and that it had become “too much for her” to drive her husband to job interviews and meetings with his probation officer, attend her own anger management classes and probation meetings, clean the house and take care of the children. Lyons-Lenchick told Welch, the affidavit says, that she gave up on herself as well as the baby, and admitted trying to kill her baby by starving him to death.
As part of a continuing effort to make the presence of law enforcement “visible in the community,” and “most likely something we will do again in the future,” Sheriff Smith said a combination of traffic stops and “checking details” last Friday (June 15) netted 69 traffic summonses, eight misdemeanor drug arrests, one DUI arrest and an arrest for an outstanding felony warrant (a probation violation).
She said 434 vehicles were stopped at the checking details (essentially roadblocks, where all vehicles passing through are stopped) and 57 vehicles were pulled over in a coordinated deployment of her deputies, Virginia State Police, Blue Ridge Gang Task Force members and drug-sniffing dogs on loan from Fauquier and Virginia State Police units. The details were set up in in Sperryville, Amissville and Flint Hill, Smith said, with one team roaming to other locations.
“We were out in force,” she said.