A Castleton couple is being held in the Rappahannock Jail on charges of child abuse, after at least one of them allegedly attempted to starve their two-month-old baby to death. Sheriff Connie C. Smith said yesterday (June 13) that the mother also had been charged with attempted capital murder; further information was not available from the sheriff’s office.
The woman, Brenda Lyons-Lenchick, was due to be arraigned on the attempted murder charge this morning, according to General District Court documents.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed with the Rappahannock County Circuit Court Clerk on May 30, the home of Joseph Lenchick Jr. and Brenda Lyons-Lenchick was searched for evidence that an attempt was made to starve and bury their son, who was born with a cleft lip and palate on March 16. Another search of the home was reportedly made June 6 by investigators from the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police.
On May 17, Sheriff’s Capt. J.C. Welch began an investigation of child abuse and neglect, following a report a day earlier from a child protective services worker for the Rappahannock County Department of Social Services (DSS), the search warrant affidavit states. Welch was provided with a packet of medical information and photographs of the child taken by the DSS worker that day.
The investigation revealed the infant weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces at birth, and was seen six times between March 20 and April 13 by a pediatrician, who noted that the baby’s weight was decreasing, the affidavit said. Fortified formula was prescribed, according to the affidavit, and the child began to gain weight appropriately.
After two missed pediatric checkups, the affidavit states, the infant was weighed at the Rappahannock County Health Department and was found to weigh 6 pounds 12 ounces. On May 11, after a call was made to the parents, the pediatrician examined the child and found it to be “severely malnourished.” The infant was admitted to University of Virginia Medical Center, where pediatricians found he was gaining weight when fed properly, and concluded that his failure to thrive was “due to his parents’ neglect to either properly feed, or feed . . . at all.”
The search warrant affidavit goes on to say that Brenda Lyons-Lenchick told investigator Welch 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.
After three weeks, the affadavit goes on, during which she planned how to bury the child in Pennsylvania beside her father’s grave, Lyons-Lenchick said she changed her mind after the pediatrician called May 10, taking him back to the doctor to be examined. The document states that Joseph Lenchick told investigators he had “no idea” about his wife’s alleged starvation of the baby, and that they did not return to the pediatrician because he had lost his job. He said the couple also had a 3-year-old daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy, according to the document, and had also stopped taking their daughter to the pediatrician after losing his job.