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Ashley Roland, the 28-year-old mother of the child, and Nathan Bridges, 33, were arrested and charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, and endangering the welfare of a minor, Arkansas State Police said in a statement. Bridges is reportedly Roland’s boyfriend.
“Based on initial findings, it’s believed the boy died from injuries sustained in the home, possibly three months ago,” police said. “The state medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of death.”
Roland also had a 6-year-old daughter with what appeared to be burns on her scalp. The girl has been removed from the home and is being treated at a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital, where she is in stable condition.
Police responded to the home on December 16 around 10:46 p.m. after being told the 6-year-old boy had been discovered dead underneath the floorboards.
“It’s very [disheartening] that I have a house, just two houses over, and had no idea that there was a deceased child that close … I hope they’re punished to the fullest,” the couple’s neighbor, Machelle Calloway, told WREG Memphis.
Anita Widby, who says she is a friend of the children’s grandmother Karen, set up a GoFundMe page and wrote that Karen “has been trying to get custody of her grandchild for over a year” and has gone “through the proper channels” even paying “a ridiculous amount of money” to finally obtain a court order allowing her to see her grandchildren every weekend. Widby wrote that when Karen went to the house on Friday, she was told the youngest child was at a friend’s house and the oldest “couldn’t walk.” Widby added that Karen took the child to the hospital for her injuries, saying the “child’s hair had been chopped off, she is malnourished, cracked ribs, and many many burns on her body in various stages of healing.”
Widby said Karen was later notified that the other grandchild’s decomposing body had been found.
“These children have endured so much pain, neglect, and death,” Widby wrote. “I desperately want to help lessen the financial burden that the burial for the youngest and items needed for the oldest will present. They have so much healing to do and I want us to come together and remove one burden from Karen’s plate.”
The page has so far raised nearly $20,000 of the $100,000 goal.
Arkansas State Police said the investigation into the crime is still ongoing.