This past weekend, a three-year-old boy in Fort Myers, Florida died after being wrapped up in a blanket as punishment. Now his grandmother and two others are charged with killing him.
Lee County deputies said Michael was routinely disciplined by a method referred to as a "wrap," where he would be wrapped inside a blanket with the ends tied down to prevent him from moving and escaping.These three bottom-feeders are charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, and Trainor was hit with an additional charge of aggravated abuse of a child. Apparently Trainor developed "the wrap" as a way to discipline little Michael. He'd been mummified in that blanket several times before. When she tried to awaken Michael after an hour, she found him unresponsive and caked in sweat. Watkins tried to perform CPR, but he wouldn't respond.
On Saturday evening, the child was found unresponsive after being wrapped inside the blanket from more than an hour. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Three people have been arrested for Michael’s death, including the boy’s maternal grandmother, 56-year-old Gale Watkins. Donella Trainor, 45, and Douglas Garrigus, 21, were also arrested.
“The tragic circumstances around Michael McMullen's death saddens and infuriates everyone involved in the child welfare system,” Durdaller said in an email. “The Department of Children and Families is currently investigating the senseless death of this little boy.”
Any doubt that this was a criminal act ended earlier today, when Lee County deputies conducted follow-up interviews with the trio. What emerged is an absolutely horrific tale. When Trainor wrapped up Michael, he screamed bloody murder and begged to be let out. He was told he could come out once he calmed down. Watkins came in and asked Trainor to loosen the knot, but didn't check to make sure Trainor had done so. Michael was still struggling when Garrigus came in an hour later and urged him to calm down. He could hear Michael crying and starting to hyperventilate. Then Trainor actually tightened the knot after seeing it had come loose. He finally stopped crying, so Trainor thought he'd finally calmed down. In all likelihood, though, he was already unconscious at that point.
I'm left wondering how in the world this isn't second-degree murder. These three HAD to have known there was a risk Michael would suffocate, and based on the interviews, it sounds like the very definition of gross recklessness.
As if this story wasn't tragic enough, it sounds like Michael is the product of a family that completely failed him.
Watkins acted as caregiver to Michael and three other children – a 7-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, according to child support papers filed in Lee County court.The three surviving children are currently in foster care. This is a tragedy all around.
The children’s mother is listed as Samantha Jolene McMullen. Court documents show McMullen lives with Watkins in the River Forest Drive home, in east Lee County, where Michael was killed.
Michael’s father was Allan Alberto Pineda-Bautista. Watkins filed a domestic violence injunction against Pineda-Bautista in August, on behalf of Michael and his sister. According to the injunction, Pineda-Bautista has problems with drugs, alcohol and mental illness.
“Mr. Allen has beaten and possibly sexually abused my now 7-year-old grandchild,” Watkins wrote when filing the injunction.
Neither Pineda-Bautista nor McMullen were arrested in Michael’s death.