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UPDATE: 2 Joplin women charged with starving girl

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 5:25 p.m. CDT

JOPLIN — Two Joplin women have been charged with felony child endangerment after one woman's 3-year-old daughter was taken to a local hospital unconscious, barely breathing and weighing only 12 pounds.

The Joplin Globe reported Tuesday that Beth A. Williams, 26, and her roommate, Christina M. Haidle, 27, were charged Monday with first-degree child endangerment after being arrested over the weekend.

Police said the young girl was unresponsive when Williams took her to the emergency room on the morning of July 1. A probable-cause affidavit says the girl had a "blood sugar level of zero," a body temperature "too low to register" and a pulse so faint that she needed CPR.

The affidavit says the child was emaciated and suffering from malnutrition, and a doctor said critical care was necessary.

The girl was flown to a Springfield hospital, where she was diagnosed as suffering from chronic malnutrition. The affidavit says the girl gained 3 pounds in the first four days in the hospital, and 2 more pounds in less than one week after being placed with a foster family.

Police Lt. Darren Gallup said there appears to be no medical reason other than a lack of nutrition for the girl's condition.

"You look at every other plausible reason the child would be that way," he said. "There was no plausible reason this child would weigh 12 pounds other than they didn't feed the child."

He said Williams told investigators she didn't think there was anything wrong with the girl, who Gallup said hadn't been to a doctor for more than a year.

Dana Williams, Beth Williams' father and the child's grandfather, said he doesn't believe the accusations and that the child "has always been small since she was born."

"All I got to say about it right now is I don't believe it," he said Wednesday. "I know my daughter loves that baby with all her heart, and I know she wouldn't do anything to hurt her."

Dana Williams said he didn't see his daughter and granddaughter often. The last time they were together was Thanksgiving, he said, when his daughter fixed typical holiday fare, and the child appeared healthy and well-fed.

"That little girl had a big appetite," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight for a 3-year-old girl is 25 to 38 pounds.

"These are the types of cases that bring tears to veteran investigators' eyes," Gallup said. "If you had seen the pictures, unfortunately, it's quite obvious something wasn't right."

Haidle told investigators she has been a second care provider for the child. According to court documents, she pleaded guilty in July 2004 to endangering the welfare of a child and was placed on two years' probation. She also was arrested in 2007 for passing bad checks, for which she pleaded guilty and served 60 days in jail.

Williams was arrested in 2005 for passing bad checks, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Both Williams and Haidle were being held Wednesday on $500,000 bond, and the Jasper County Circuit Court clerk's office had no records indicating the women had attorneys.


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