Monday, March 19, 2007

Patrick Watkins offers stupid and implausible excuse for killing his stepdaughter

Couple charged with murder
Held in death of girl, 10
Kirby, Cassondra. Lexington Herald-Leader, March 15, 2007, pg. A1.

WINCHESTER -- The father and stepmother of 10-year-old Michaela Watkins were charged yesterday with murder in her death, Winchester police said.

Patrick and Joy Watkins of Winchester, who were initially charged with criminal abuse, remained in the Clark County jail. Their bond was raised from $20,000 to $200,000 each shortly after the murder charges were filed.A preliminary hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Clark District Court.

Officials continued to say little about how Michaela died. Winchester police Capt. Harvey Craycraft said she had several injuries, but he could not be more specific. County Coroner David Jacobs said preliminary results from an autopsy conducted Monday were not being released because of the continuing police investigation.

But details of the Watkinses' side of the story have begun to emerge.

According to an account the couple gave WKYT-TV, Patrick Watkins heard Michaela fall and scream after he had told her to go take a bath Saturday night.

"By the time I get up the stairs, she's red from butt to feet and her skin is peeled off," he said in the interview. "She got burned. The water burned her up."

After getting out of the tub, Michaela slipped and fell down the stairs. Watkins said his wife asked whether they should take Michaela to the hospital, but he said her injuries didn't appear that severe.

Michaela seemed fine that night. But after an outing at Red River George the next day, Michaela began having breathing problems, so they returned to their apartment. They found Michaela dead in her bed 45 minutes after they arrived home, Watkins said.

"I love my daughter," he said. "I love my family and now I've lost it all."

The Watkinses have declined interviews with the Herald-Leader.

Craycraft confirmed that the couple had given a similar account to police. He said the murder charges were prompted by the couple's failure to obtain treatment for Michaela.

Neighbors and relatives have said in interviews that the couple subjected Michaela to repeated verbal and physical abuse.

"She lived in fear of them," said Betty Stokley, Joy Watkins' grandmother, who added that she was glad to hear the charges had been upgraded to murder.

Through an open records request, the Herald-Leader has learned that police had received one complaint against the Watkinses for their treatment of the children, which led to two home visits.

On Jan. 26, an anonymous caller told Winchester police that the Watkinses were not feeding Michaela. The caller did not mention anything about physical abuse, said Craycraft, who was one of the officers who responded to the call.

"That day Michaela was very skinny and it didn't look normal to me," Craycraft said. "So I called a social worker."

The social worker told Craycraft that Michaela had a self-inflicted eating disorder. However, social workers continued to monitor the situation and took Michaela to a doctor to be checked out at least once, he said.

Craycraft said he didn't see any bruises on Michaela or any of her three siblings during his visit.

"Besides her being skinny, there was no signs of abuse," Craycraft said. "Nothing to indicate that anything was wrong."

It is not known how many times social workers visited the family. Officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said they would not release details about the cabinet's contact with Michaela because of the police investigation and in an effort to protect the confidentiality of the other children, who have been removed from the home.

In the WKYT interview, Joy Watkins said that if she and her husband were treating Michaela badly, there would have been signs.

"This was a child that was in and out of doctor's offices and therapist offices every two weeks," she said. "Are people going to say that every one of those people failed her, that they missed something? There was nothing to miss."

Staff at Shearer Elementary School in Winchester, which Michaela attended until late last year, are raising money to pay for Michaela's funeral and fund a scholarship in her name. One person helping in that effort, Shane McCaslin, 38, said family members of Joy Watkins had contacted the school to see whether they could use some of the money for Joy Watkins' bond. The school declined that request.

Visitation for Michaela will be 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Franklin Avenue Church of the Living God in Winchester. The funeral will be private.


Blogger the truth hurts said...

This is sooooo crazy, i have not seen anything like this in my whole life. The social worker was called (by the officers own admission) she looked tooooooooooooo skinney and the social worker shows up once to take her to a doctor. But the fkn crazy thing is the social worker has showed up to my house 3 friggin times because my oldest daughter has 3 unexcused absents, wtf. I mean the dumb a** social worker must have eyes (OR DOES SHE?!?!) and seen what the officer seen but yet ONLY CHECK ON HER ONCE ONCE ONCE...OMGOSH SMH And because my 7 year old daughter misses a little school they come 3 times....all because the system DOES NOT CARE THAT A CHILD IS BEING TORTURED AND ULTIMATELY IS MURDERED..WHAT THEY CARE ABOUT IS MISSING THAT MONEY THEY ARE NOT GETTING WHEN MY DAUGHTER IS NOT AT SCHOOL. PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those dumb a** social workers should be sued or LEARN HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!! Can anyone tell me who i can call to complain about this too????? pleeeeeeeeeeeeez let me know

8:12 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

Patrick Watkins, the father, may be receiving a new trial. That was the latest I heard regarding this horrible crime against a child in our very own town. :(

4:48 AM  
Blogger clergymom said...

The truth hurts:
1) maybe the social worker is visiting your house more because they are trying to revamp the system and be more thorough
2) a social worker does not come for a child missing three times. My kids have missed for various reasons and there is never a problem. There must be some other concerns.
I am not saying you are abusive- or the concerns are valid- but that there is something beyond the abscences.
Good luck with your struggle.

11:17 AM  

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