Austin James Watkins
November 15, 2003 - November 9, 2008
A Grave Memorial
Was a free $10,000. life insurance
to starve a little boy to death? Police were trying to figure that out.
A year before he died, Austin James Watkins was taken to the hospital
doctors were told he was sick. Police also wonder if that was as
for the fact that he was was being slowly starved to death.
Who could have tortured this child by
watch those around him eat and not giving him so much as a scrap of
to eat? It wasn't some stranger, it was his aunt and his grandmother.
Bell and Janice Mowdy allowed Austin to starve to death. When he was
by police, they believed he had not eaten at all, for almost two weeks.
Police believe Austin was locked in a room and was only given water and
that he was kept in a cage or tied up. Police say that though some
knew about it, no one called them:
"No one was contacted here at
the Scott County
Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee
SHOCKINGLY someone DID
know and admitted
it saying that she wished she had told someone. Brenda Peterson, who is
the sister of Janice Moody, KNEW
what was happening and never called
to get help for Austin:
"They'd let the other children
eat in front
of him, make him stand in one place, let them eat and
drink with him just starving to
nothing to eat"
What kind of heartless monsters could
to a child? What kind of a heartless monster could KNOW it was
done, WATCH it and not get help:
"Anyone who did not call could
If someone had any knowledge about it,
that this was going on, they
should have called
every day. They should have
done anything they could to get
and DHS involved"
Administrators at Austin's school had
as to why he was looking so unhealthy, he was immediately taken out of
school by Janice and no one at school reported his sudden absence. The
woman who runs the school, Mabel Odam, who SHOULD have reported
the absence and the possible abuse simply said of the case:
“I don’t want to get
How sad, because if you HAD
other than to ignore his absence and abuse, Austin might not have had
suffer the way he did and he might still be alive. In my opinion you,
Odam, are an accessory to the
killing of this child.
Reporters were telling police about
people who had
said they knew what was going on inside the trailer and never reported
it. Austin, who was only four years old, starved to death and when
found him, he weighed only 19 pounds. Those who saw him said that he
literally skin and bones and his cheeks were sunken in. Mike Lee said
they were investigating if Austin had been kept away from the other
in the home:
"Our speculation is that he was
possibly locked some where, somewhere else
in the home, or somehow held,
able to get out, or get away. Investigators
right now are taking a look at
there is some
evidence the child may have been tied up"
Stephanie Bell and Janice Mowdy were
murder and felony child abuse and were held without bond.
The case was being investigated by
a Deputy Administrator of Family And Children's Services for the
Of Human Services. Laurie said this was one of the worst cases she has
"This is a social workers'
nightmare, we want
these calls before the incidents happen"
Pinned to the wall in his room was
the $10,000. life
insurance policy, which was given free from Gerber. Of course, these
disgusting excuses for human beings deny that they did anything wrong.
Three other children, ages nine, six and two, were removed from the
and placed in foster care. Not everyone knew what was going on and some
residents in the town were stunned to learn about it:
"It broke my heart. I have
three grand babies"
"It's horrible. I'm just sick
to my stomach.
In fact, it's the worst crime I have heard of"
Billy Frank Alford
The Department Of Human Services
admits they received
one call in 2006. An inspection was done in the home and they found
to cause worry:
"I cannot talk about this
although I would love to. But what we do know is if
DHS had received a call, such as
any county any time we would have immediately responded"
DHS Deputy Director Lori Woodruff
Joe Bradford, the county Coroner said
showed no poison or drugs of any kind in Austin's system, he was not
at all. This will help prosecutors who had been told by his killers
he was sick and that was why he lost so much weight. The coroners
also said that there was little to nothing in Austin's stomach at the
of his death. His weight, 19 pounds, was the same as an average one
old child. The coroner said that he is learning a lot about how Austin
"There was so little in the
stomach and digestive
system that you can't tell what, if anything,
the boy might have eaten"
Austin's biological mother said that
the DHS was
wrong to take her son away from her. Tammy Watkins admits that she has
made some mistakes in the past and that she had done drugs, she says
last time she did any drugs was in 2002. Tammy says that her husband,
father, has a problem and was in jail at the time on drug and statutory
rape charges. Tammy says she lost custody of Austin because CPS thought
her house was unkempt, but, insists she had not done drugs since 2000
she had taken drug tests:
"I have not done any drugs,
since, I would
say 2000. I had one in 2002, I mean I am willing
take a drug test, tomorrow, any
day. I mean
I do not do drugs, I have not done drugs"
Tammy was in a court hearing trying
to get custody
of two of the other children from the trailer. Kenney, who was six and
Erin who was nine, were both her children as well as Austin. The other
child who had been placed into foster care was a cousin to the
four year old Courtney. Tammy had been the one to make a report in
2006, saying Austin was being abused:
"I heard she was treatin Austin
bad back in
'06, you know and I called and DHS said they went
out there, and they didn't see no
on him or anything"
Mike Lee said that the purpose of the
to see if Tammy would get her children back. Mike also confirmed the
of the life insurance policy in the room:
"The mother was going to see
custody back, and pretty much DHS was making
sure that these children stayed in
custody. There was a life insurance policy, it may
be another motive, we are
now for anything for answers"
Tammy was told during the custody
hearing that she
would need to get a job and prove that she could provide a stable home
for her two children before she could regain custody of them. Tammy
the pain of what has happened will take a lot of time to heal and that
she is angry at the two women who killed her son, she refers to them as
"I'm going to get a job and try
to fight for
them. It's the most important thing in the world to me
right now. I'm going to get a job
to fight for them. It's the most important thing in the
world to me right now"
Mike Lee said Tammy lost custody of
in 2005 due to her drug problems. The children were removed and placed
with the two women and they wouldn't allow anyone to visit:
"We weren't allowed up there.
She kept all
of us from there. She didn't like me"
Tammy says that the last time she saw
her son, he
had been happy and appeared healthy:
"She could have given him back
to me instead
of doing this. If she didn't want him, she could have
handed him back. I would have
Tammy is turning her attention to
getting her other
two children back. She has spoken to them and is hoping that soon, they
can come and live with her again:
"I'm looking for a job. I will
and once I get the job and I can hold it like six months,
I think DHS will really be
At Austin's funeral, a friend of
about the case:
"That grandmother is not a
human, that can
abuse a child like that. I had people telling me in
that funeral home, that they had
tie this baby up on the porch"
A bouquet of flowers covered his
tiny, white coffin
as he was buried. Tammy said:
"I may not have been the best
mama, but I was
a mama. I didn't do this and he was healthy"
Relatives claimed to have called CPS
"They went out there but they
never did nothing
about the way the baby was"
A DHS spokesperson did not confirm or
deny a case
having been open on Austin, saying only:
"Our people in Scott County are
authorities to help gather information on the case"
Today is June 12, 2014 and I am searching
for information about Austin's case and this is what I have found:
In September of 2009, Janice Mowdy, who
was 44 years old and Stephanie Bell, who was 23 years old, entered
pleas of guilty to capital murder. Both women sat stone faced in court
and Stephanie's lawyer, Shawn Harris said it was a hard decision for
both of them to make:
"It was, it was.
Because they're making a decision that ends both of their lives
Janice's lawyer said:
"I think she clearly
grasped the severity of the charge. I think one thing, they were scared"
A motive for the death had never been
found, though thoughts centered around the life insurance policy that
was found in the home:
"I don't know of any
motive. I have racked my brain during the entire course of this case
to figure out how or why this happened and I just do not have an
Attorney - Mark Duncan
Each of these women was sentenced to life
in prison with no possibility for parole. Life without parole is EXACTLY what it should be, for ANYONE who kills a child while
Death Occurred in the
state of Connecticut
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