A South Carolina toddler was found unresponsive at a home in Gray Court, authorities say, the 2-year-old boy surrounded by the dead bodies of dozens of animals. His mother, Savannah Morgan, was arrested and charged with child abuse. Worse, the 25-year-old woman is 8 months pregnant.
The Clinton Chronicle reported July 31 that Savannah Morgan of Gray Court (just over 25 miles southeast of Greenville, South Carolina) was arrested after Laurens County authorities responded to a complaint call about the residence. What they found were five people, three children — including the unresponsive toddler — and two adults, living in squalid and unsafe living conditions. Dead and living animals, not to mention feces and trash, littered the trailer, a double-wide mobile home.
Morgan originally told police that the 2-year-old had choked on some chips, which had somehow rendered him unconscious. She would later alter her story to say that she might have dropped her son.
The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office report said, according to WSPA in Spartanburg, that the toddler’s father led a responding deputy to a back bedroom of the child. There he found the unconscious 2-year-old as well as soiled diapers, feces, broken glass, and trash on the floor.
The three children were removed from the home. Two were placed with child protective custody while the toddler was airlifted to Greenville Memorial Hospital where he is listed in critical condition. Doctors reported extensive injuries: bleeding in the brain, bruising to head, neck and back, and other injuries. Although medical professionals said that Morgan’s claim of dropping the toddler might actually be true, that alone could not account for the number of injuries the child had sustained. The Chronicle reported that the child was somewhat more responsive the day following his admission than when he was first admitted.
Savannah Morgan was charged with abuse to inflict great bodily injury on a child, three counts of unlawful child neglect, and animal cruelty. She was subsequently placed in the Johnson Detention Center with a bond set at $85,000: $50,000 for child abuse/injury, $10,000 each count of child neglect, and $5,000 for animal cruelty. While awaiting trial, Savannah Morgan was ordered by the judge to have no contact with her children, which are on and 2 years of age. (The hospitalized toddler is one of a set of 2-year-old twins.)
As for the father, WYFF reported in Greenville that charges are pending. Lt. Judy Stiles of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies would not arrest Matthew Batton, the toddler’s father, at present because a parent was needed to make decisions on behalf of the hospitalized 2-year-old. He will also face arrest for unlawful neglect once deputies have determined the child’s health status.
WSPA noted that a report from Animal Control cited that there were numerous animals removed from the residence and that 80 percent of them were dead. The removal included: 3 dogs, 6 dead tarantulas, 4 bearded dragons (2 dead), 4 snakes, 10 dead pythons, two turtles, 11 dead gerbils and 48 dead rats. Two of the dogs were found chained outside the trailer with no food or water, their rib cages prominently displayed. All the other animals were reportedly kept in plastic bins with other types of cages inside the trailer.