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Three charged in barbaric case of child abuse

10:13 AM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
Donella Trainor, 45 to the left. Gale Watkins, 56, in the middle. Douglas Garrigus, 21, to the right
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three people have been charged in the death of a child who deputies say was routinely bound in a blanket as a form of discipline.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office got the 9-1-1 call saying the child was unresponsive just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, October 19th, at 13798 River Forest Drive in Fort Myers Shores.

Investigators say three-year-old Michael Lee McMullen was sweating profusely after his afternoon nap.

Donella Trainor, 45, and the boy's grandmother, 56-year-old Gale Watkins, were performing CPR when emergency responders arrived.

The boy taken to the hospital and pronounced dead 40 minutes later. His body was taken to the Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy.

Meanwhile, detectives started looking into the case.

They say the boy was having behavioral issues and he was put down for an afternoon nap.

Investigators learned Trainor had developed a barbaric way of dealing with the boy's behavior - rolling him up completely in a blanket and tying off the ends so he was unable to move.

Trainor allegedly referred to the method as a "wrap." Deputies say she did the "wrap" Saturday, as she had done in the past.

Watkins reportedly held the boy down, while Trainor rolled him up in the king-size bed blanket. It was estimated that the child was in six layers of blanket.

Deputies say she laid the boy face down in the crib, as he cried and pleaded to be released - and she said he would be set free if he calmed down.

Watkins apparently knew what was going on and told Trainor the knot on the blanket was too tight. She allegedly told Trainor to loosen it, but didn't stay in the room to ensure that was done.

Investigators say the boy continued to struggle. A third person in the home at the time, 21-year-old Douglas Garrigus, went in after about an hour and urged the boy to calm down.

He said he could hear Michael crying and hyperventilating.

Trainor apparently noticed the knot had loosened, so she allegedly tightened it again and put pillows around the sides of the crib and on the boy's legs.

He stopped crying - and Trainor assumed he had calmed down and would rest. When she went in to wake him up, she found him soaking wet and unresponsive, according to the sheriff's office.

The Medical Examiner's office ruled the death a homicide on Tuesday.

Deputies arrested Trainor, Watkins and Garrigus all with Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. Trainor also faces a charge of Aggravated Abuse of a Child.

Bond was set for Watkins and Garrigus at $250,000, and they're to have no contact with children.

Trainor is considered a flight risk, according to the court. She was already on probation because of a child abuse conviction in Michigan in 1992.

Her bond was set at $300,000 for each count.

WBBH

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