WARNING: This story includes graphic details involving neglect of a child that may be upsetting for some readers. Discretion is advised.
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KFDX/KJTL) — A Texas woman faces multiple felony charges after her 6-year-old son was admitted to a children’s hospital in Fort Worth for what the child’s doctor said was one of the worst cases of neglect they’d ever seen.
Catherine Lynn Jarvey is charged with injury to a child and exploitation of a child, a first-degree felony and a third-degree felony, respectively. She was booked into the Wichita County jail Oct. 14 on bonds totaling $70,000.
According to the affidavit, officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department were dispatched to a room at the Delux Inn on Sept. 21 at around 1:30 a.m. regarding a welfare check that resulted in a possible injury to a child.
Responding officers said staff members identified Jarvey and her two children as the residents of the room they were dispatched to.
Officers already at the scene advised that an exterminator had been to the room and observed the victim, later identified as Jarvey’s six-year-old son.
According to the affidavit, the exterminator described the victim as looking like a skeleton lying in a pack-and-play in the room. The exterminator told authorities that when the “skeleton” turned its head, he realized it was a child who was alive.
Officers on the scene then contacted detectives with the Crimes Against Children and Juvenile Units of the WFPD.
Police said the victim was very thin and Jarvey held him in her arms like a parent would hold an infant. They said the victim could not extend his arms and legs and did not let out any noises, and they observed hair growing all over the victim’s body.
Jarvey, the child’s mother, told police that her son was six years old.
Officers on the scene noted that the child’s rib cage was curved inward and askew, his head was misshapen, and he suffered from a severe curve of the spine.
Jarvey told police she also had a 10-year-old daughter who lived in the room with them, and police observed her and noted she looked like an average 10-year-old child.
According to the affidavit, Jarvey told police the victim had a number of medical diagnoses that caused his appearance, including alobar holoprosencephaly, hydrocephalus, pectus excavatum, and scoliosis.
Jarvey told officers that due to her son’s abnormal appearance, she was used to having Child Protective Services and police called.
Police said Jarvey told them she was supposed to feed the victim 8 ounces of formula every 5 hours but had missed a feeding.
While on the scene, police said they observed numerous cans of enteral formula that they found to be expired. They said of the 18 cases of formula they found, they said all the marked “use by” dates on the formula was dated for use in 2021 or prior.
Police said they also found insulin, lancets, and syringes, as well as some food, snacks, drinks, beer, and dog food in the room.
The child was transported to United Regional, where staff advised police that they suspected the victim hadn’t been fed in 24 to 48 hours due to the lack of gastric contents in their stomach. The victim was later transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dr. Elizabeth Peeler with Cook told police the victim was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit with severe malnutrition and failure to thrive. The victim weighed 15 pounds and 3.4 ounces, less than the first percentile for his age and gender.
By comparison, Dr. Peeler’s report said the victim weighed 19 pounds when he was 18 months old, proving that despite his medical conditions, the victim should have weighed significantly more.
Dr. Peeler said in her report the victim was extremely small for his age and that the victim was physically wasting with loss of weight and muscle mass. She said the victim was not able to walk, talk, sit up, follow commands, and is not potty trained.
In Dr. Peeler’s report, she said the victim had atrophy in all extremities with his left calf measuring 4.5 inches in circumference.
“I see patients for neglect every day,” Dr. Peeler said. “This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. This is really egregious.”
Dr. Peeler ultimately said Jarvey’s failure to seek medical care definitely contributed to the victim’s condition, which nearly resulted in a fatality.
Police said Jarvey told them she hadn’t taken the victim to the doctor since 2019, though her other child had received regular healthcare exams.
Police said at the victim’s appointment in 2019, he weighed 21 pounds.
According to Dr. Peeler, as of October 12, 2022, the victim is gaining weight and is improving daily, now weighing 17 pounds and 13.4 ounces.
According to the affidavit, Jarvey was also charged with exploitation after it was discovered she was receiving social security funds and food stamps to care for the victim.
Police said they have probable cause to believe the benefits Jarvey is receiving to care for the victim were not being used for the victim, though the nutrition, medical care, and welfare needs for herself, her daughter, and her dogs were being met.