Weatherford Democrat

September 21, 2011

History of neglect

Dead boy’s brother found alone in ‘pig pen’

Christin Coyne
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — The half-brother of Kamden Bailey — the 1-year-old, law enforcement claims, was killed by his mother’s boyfriend last week — was removed from his mother’s custody in 2008 due to neglect, court records show.

Investigators were concerned Kamden’s brother, then 18 months old, was constantly being left home alone by his mother, Vanessa Coomer, before he was removed from her custody, according to court documents.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled Kamden’s death Friday afternoon a homicide resulting from a traumatic head injury.

His mother’s boyfriend, Rodney Chase Pettigrew, remained in the Parker County Jail without bond Tuesday on a charge of capital murder.

Pettigrew, 24, who has a 3-year-old daughter, was babysitting 14-month-old Kamden alone at his parent’s house Thursday when he called 911 reporting the boy was not breathing and had fallen off a kitchen counter, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Doctors at Cook Childrens Hospital reported Kamden’s head injuries were inconsistent with a short fall, but the complex skull fracture was believed to be a result of “severe abusive trauma,” according to the court document.

Kamden’s paternal grandparents, Bobby and Susie Farrell, said Pettigrew and Coomer had been together for several months, and in recent weeks, they began suspecting something was wrong.

Susie Farrell said she confronted the boy’s 26-year-old mother and Pettigrew the week before the incident.

The couple offered to pay for day care for the child so Pettigrew would not have to watch the child while the boy’s mother was at work and contemplated calling CPS with their suspicions, the Farrells said.

Parker County district court records indicate Kamden’s older half-brother, who will be 5 years old next month, was taken from Coomer and placed with his paternal grandmother, a Springtown woman, in 2008, due to neglect.

In 2008, concerned neighbors in Bell County noticed Coomer’s 18-month-old son was being left at home alone, and one contacted authorities Feb. 20, 2008, when he heard the child crying, according to the petition filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The boy’s father was deployed to Iraq at the time, according to court records.

Military police reportedly found the 18-month-old alone in the house, standing in his crib, crying.

“The home environment was very filthy,” according to court documents, who described a “pig pen.” “There were loads of dirty clothes throughout the home. There were soiled diapers thrown throughout the home ... There were medicine bottles and liquor bottles scattered throughout the home accessible to [the boy]. The light sockets in the home were filled with wires that were also accessible to the child.”

The investigator contacted Coomer on her cell phone and told her that her son was in CPS custody, according to court documents. “She responded nonchalantly. Ms. Coomer stated she was in Austin, Texas; there was loud music in the background ... Ms. Coomer did not set up any arrangements for her 18-month-old son.”

There was evidence she had left her son home alone prior to that incident, according to court documents.

“I believe there is a danger to the physical health or safety of the child,” a Child Protective Services investigator stated in an affidavit filed in Bell County in 2008. “Mrs. Coomer knowingly and intentionally left her child home alone. Mrs. Coomer appears to place her needs above her child, and she expects him to care for himself.”

Other court records show Coomer did not complete CPS requirements during the following months, and the boy was placed with his paternal grandmother.

During the final court hearing involving the child about a year later, the boy’s paternal grandmother and father showed up, but Coomer did not despite proper notice, according court records.

Coomer was not allowed unsupervised visitation or access to her child, according to the court order.

The Democrat was unable to contact Coomer for comment Tuesday.

A call to a Child Protective Service’s spokesperson was not returned Tuesday.