KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The parents of a Grain Valley, Mo., infant who lost seven fingers to a pet ferret could not rescue the child because they weren't home at the time, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.
Authorities subpoenaed cellphone records to track the parents the night their 4-month-old baby was injured, court records show. Their findings contradict the parents, who originally told police that their baby's screams awakened them.
Jackson County prosecutors charged Ryan R. Waldo, 33, and his wife, Carrie R. Waldo, 25, with first-degree child endangerment. Both pleaded not guilty Wednesday at the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence, Mo. The two had surrendered to Grain Valley police a few hours earlier.
Dan Miller, a lawyer representing the couple, said their not guilty pleas would represent their response at this time.
Jackson County Judge Jeffrey Lynn Bushur set bond at $5,000 each. Each defendant posted $500 in cash, a court spokeswoman said.
The child injured Jan. 10 is doing well, Miller said. The couple's family includes three other children, he added. All currently are living with relatives under state jurisdiction, Miller said.
"These kids love their parents," Miller said. "I am surprised as the parents are that they have been charged."
Preliminary hearings for both parents have been scheduled for July 13 in Independence.
Court records do not say who supposedly was watching the infant when the ferret attacked or whether an adult was in the home at the time.
The parents called 911 about 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 10 to request help at their home. Authorities found the 4-month-old child with only two thumbs and part of a pinkie finger remaining.
The child was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital in critical condition.
According to court records, Carrie Waldo told authorities that the child had been asleep in his infant rocker in the front room. She told them she had fallen asleep in the same room while watching television and that her husband was asleep in a nearby bedroom.
Upon awakening, she said, she saw the ferret in the child's rocker or chair and blood was "covering" the child.
She called 911, she said.
Her husband grabbed the ferret and threw it against the dishwasher, killing it, Carrie Waldo told police.
In March, detectives obtained cellphone records indicating that both phones belonging to the parents "were not present in the area of their residence when the victim was injured by the ferret," court records said.
GPS location documents indicated that the phones were calling and texting each other in several different locations when the ferret was attacking the child. However, both phones were in the area of the residence when the 911 was call was made, according to court documents.
The records do not say how much time authorities think elapsed between the attack and the 911 call.
Court documents describe how two detectives serving a search warrant at the residence the day of the incident noted that the parents apparently had moved several items, including the infant rocker or chair in which the child had been sleeping.
The chair also had been cleaned, court documents said.
Carrie Waldo told the detectives the ferret had been given to them as a Christmas gift and that it roamed freely in the residence.
According to the court documents, Waldo began crying during the search warrant execution and made statements such as "I know something is going to happen," and "Something happened, this is neglect, and you should just arrest me."
Subsequent investigation indicated that the landlords had contacted a local ferret advocate days earlier in an attempt to perhaps relocate the ferret.
According to court documents, the landlords told the advocate the Waldos were considering giving the ferret away "because the ferret had bitten their baby twice." Ultimately, the Waldos decided to keep the ferret.
Marilynn Brandriff, one of the landlords, said Wednesday that the couple's children have been living with a grandparent at the home since the incident. The parents have been living elsewhere.
When the lease expired last month, Brandriff said, she gave the family a one-month extension. But the family plans to leave by the end of the month, she said.
In May, the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime laboratory said the ferret's stomach contents had screened positive for the presence of human blood.
Grain Valley Police Chief Aaron Ambrose said Wednesday that the family's oldest child is 8 or 9 years old, and the youngest now is 9 months old.
Some of his officers saw the injured child recently, Ambrose added.
"He seems to be doing as well as he can," Ambrose said. "He's managing with what he has."
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