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Three face child abuse charges in two cases


     Unrelated child abuse cases involving a very young infant and a 3-year-old have resulted in three arrests, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office reports.

     Justin Dewayne Williamson, 22, of Jim Jolly Road, Clarendon, was charged with felony intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, and booked at the Columbus County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond.

     Chandler Reece Simmons, 24, and his girlfriend Heidi Yvette Herring, 53, of Hemlock Drive, Whiteville, were each charged with misdemeanor child abuse. Herring was released under an unsecured bond. Simmons was issued a criminal summons, which did not require a bond.

     Though the two cases are unrelated, all three were charged Thursday at the Columbus County Detention Center, jail records show.

     Williamson’s infant daughter has been placed in the custody of the Columbus County Department of Social Services. Simmons’ son is with his mother.

Infant injuries severe

     Detectives were contacted by the Columbus County Department of Social Services on Sept. 10 regarding injuries sustained by a 13 day-old female infant taken to McLeod Loris hospital on Sept. 8, the news release from Sheriff Jody Greene said.

     Scratches covered the girl’s upper body, there was “an abrasion on the side of her neck, bruising on her clavicle area, a subdural hematoma (head trauma), and pneumomediastinum (air in her mediastinum),” the news release said. “She also had seizures as a result of the head trauma. She was transferred to Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, due to the severity of her injuries.”

     Williamson had been alone with the girl while her mother, Crystal Hall, 21, was taking care of business in Whiteville. Williamson told different stories about what happened, the news release said, including that he had stuck his finger in the infant’s mouth, cutting her, and the girl then choking on blood.

     A finger sweep in the mouth followed, Williamson allegedly said, “cutting her again,” the news release said. “He then thought she was no longer breathing. After attempting CPR, he rushed the infant outside to another family member. He said he might have hit her head on the way outside but he wasn’t sure.

     “Hall was contacted and came home. The baby was then transported to the hospital after some time had passed. Williamson told a different story of what happened while at the hospital. Upon examination, blood was found in the infant’s nose and mouth.

     An investigator, during the investigation, was told that the baby was injured about a week earlier, when Williamson, standing under a covered porch, “allegedly lifted the infant over his head because she was laughing and hit her head on the top rafters of the covered porch. The infant would have been seven days old or younger. Neither parent sought medical care for the child after that incident.”

Father’s girlfriend

     Social Services investigators contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 30 on a complaint from Kimberly Payne, 24, the mother of Simmons’ 3 year-old boy.

     Payne, also of Whiteville, said she picked her son up on the evening of Sept. 29, after leaving the boy with Simmons and Herring since Sept. 19. She picked the boy up after Simmons was arrested on an unrelated charge, the news release said.

     Payne discovered “severe bruising” on the boy’s buttocks and lower back, and sought medical care for him.

     Detectives interviewed both Simmons and Herring, and conducted “a forensic interview with the child,” the news release said.

     Investigators determined “that while in Herring’s care, the child obtained a snack cake on his own without asking for permission,” the news release said. “As a result, Herring struck the child repeatedly, causing his injuries.

     “Simmons was allegedly asleep at the time of the incident.”

     Look for more on this story in this week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.