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Mother is sentenced in case of infant who lost fingers to family ferret

Updated: 2013-07-19T19:28:05Z

By BRIAN BURNES

The Kansas City Star

A former Grain Valley woman who left an infant unattended with the family ferret must undergo drug treatment as part of a plea agreement, a Jackson County judge ruled Tuesday.

The ferret chewed off most of the 4-month-old child’s fingers in January 2011.

Carrie Waldo, 27, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree child endangerment. Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners accepted Waldo’s plea and ordered her to complete a 30-day inpatient drug treatment program.

If she completes it, Waldo is expected to receive on July 19 a one-year sentence in the county jail that will be suspended.

Terms of a two-year probation that would begin on that date also mandate that she have no contact with the family’s five children, including the child who was injured.

Manners told Waldo that she had “created a substantial risk” in allowing the animal to have access to the child.

“You knew that the ferret had bitten the child in the past,” he said.

Manners also asked Curt Winegarner, Waldo’s public defender, to emphasize to Waldo the importance of her being in court July 19. After Waldo did not appear for her scheduled court appearance Monday, Manners issued a warrant for her arrest. Warrants also had been issued in November 2011 after both Carrie Waldo and husband Ryan missed a court date.

Waldo had forgotten her scheduled Monday court appearance, Winegarner said.

About 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2011, emergency personnel responded to the couple’s Grain Valley home on a 911 call. They found that the 4-month-old child had only two thumbs and part of a pinkie finger remaining.

The child was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital in critical condition.

According to court records, Carrie Waldo told authorities the child had been asleep in his infant rocker in the front room. She had fallen asleep in that room while watching television, she told investigators, while her husband slept in a nearby bedroom.

Upon being awakened by the child’s screams, she saw the ferret in the child’s rocker, with blood “covering” the child, she said.

She called 911 while her husband killed the ferret, she said.

That June, prosecutors charged Ryan and Carrie Waldo with first-degree child endangerment. Investigators had subpoenaed cellphone records to track the parents the night the child was injured. The records indicated that both phones “were not present in the area of their residence when the victim was injured by the ferret,” according to court records.

GPS location documents indicated that the phones were calling and texting each other in several different locations when the animal was attacking the child, court records said. However, both phones were in the area of the residence when the 911 call was made.

Court documents also described how two detectives serving a search warrant at the residence the day of the incident noted that the couple apparently had moved several items, including the infant rocker or chair in which the child had been sleeping.

The chair had been cleaned, court documents said. Also, Carrie Waldo began crying and made statements such as “I know something is going to happen” and “Something happened. This is neglect and you should just arrest me.”

In May 2011, the Missouri Highway Patrol crime laboratory reported that the ferret’s stomach contents had screened positive for the presence of human blood.

Ryan Waldo pleaded guilty in March to second-degree child endangerment. On the witness stand, Waldo said that the animal had been a Christmas gift to the family and that it sometimes had bitten the children before but had not caused serious injury.

Manners ordered that Ryan Waldo serve 40 hours of community service, complete parenting classes and have no contact with the children during his probationary period.

Neither Ryan or Carrie Waldo has custody of any of the five children. The children have been adopted, are in the process of being adopted or are living with other relatives.

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com.

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