Cleburne parents face charge of injury to child after death of adopted boy

Posted Tuesday, May. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The adoptive parents of a 4-year-old Cleburne boy who died two months ago were arrested Monday on a felony warrant accusing them of injury to a child, police reported.

The boy, Buddy Cook, was found dead at the family home March 22. Officials said then that he appeared to be “skin and bones.” He weighed 31 pounds, about 6 pounds under the average weight for a child his age.

David Cook, 46, and Angel Cook, 35, were in the Johnson County Jail on Monday with bail set at $75,000 each.

According to affidavits filed by Child Protective Services, the child appeared to have died from dehydration and malnutrition, and the parents did not seek medical attention for him.

As of Monday night, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office had not ruled on the cause or manner of Buddy’s death.

Cleburne police Detective Kelly Summey, a department spokeswoman, said that under Texas law, a person commits injury to a child, a first-degree felony, if “recklessly by omission” or neglect he or she causes “serious bodily injury.”

“The most important part of this,” Summey said, “is the culpable mental state — intentionally, knowingly, recklessly — with the addition of ‘by act or omission.’

“In cooperation with the district attorney’s office, we felt the most appropriate charge is injury to a child.”

The boy was pronounced dead about 11:20 a.m. March 22 at the Cooks’ residence in the 500 block of Odell Street.

The Cooks told investigators that they had adopted Buddy, an offspring from an incestuous relationship. They said he had been sexually abused by his biological mother and several men, causing him to be emotionally disturbed.

An autopsy found that he had food and water in his system when he died, police have said. A family friend who sometimes cared for the children told investigators they always appeared healthy and appropriately clean. One of the affidavits stated that the Cooks’ home was clean and well-stocked with food.

But a CPS investigator wrote that Buddy’s eyes and cheeks were sunken and that he was emaciated. She saw bruises on his wrists and marks on his face and legs, according to the report.

Seven other children living in the house, ages 1 to 12, were placed in foster care during the investigation.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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