Columbia woman under investigation for beating children
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors charged a woman Thursday with nearly a dozen crimes, including child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and armed criminal action.
Court documents said 38-year-old Shiree Howard, whose five children were living at her residence in the 1900 block of Arlene Drive, put a plastic bag over her daughter's head for about 20 seconds, causing the child to not be able to breathe. The girl told police she "believed she was going to die." She also said Howard told her and her sisters Howard "would kill them," and that she "was going to shoot and stab" her children if they told anyone about the abuse.
One of Howard's children told police Howard hit her with a yellow plastic bat and a broom handle more than once, the document said. it further said her 13-year-old child had to go to the hospital after Howard assaulted the child, leaving a cut on her head and injuries to her arms. According to the court document, the child told investigators she did not want to go back to Howard's house because she "didn't want to die."
Investigators said in one instance, Howard hit her 12-year-old with a bat because she was mad her 2-year-old son had "gotten into the powder" in the garage. The court document implied Howard had kept cocaine at the residence, and said the 12-year-old got a concussion from the assault.
Howard's neighbor David Smith said he was not surprised to hear about the child abuse case.
"We have seen several incidents where the kids are allowed to run around wherever they want," he said. "They've been several cases when we actually almost hit them with the car because they've just run out in the street without parent or supervision."
Howard was charged with seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of child abuse or neglect and two counts of armed criminal action. Her bond was set at $110,000 cash only.
The probable cause document said the investigation started after the Missouri Department of Family Services received a child abuse report via the DFS hotline.
The case is co-investigated by the Columbia Police Department and the Missouri Children's Division of the Department of Social Services. Department's communications director Rebecca Woelfel said the information relating to specific child abuse and neglect investigations are closed and confidential.
The Department of Social Services strongly encourages anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-3738. The hotline is answered 24-hours a day, every day, all year round.