Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 22, 2013

W.Va. couple arrested at grandson's funeral

Ashley B. Craig,Contributor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The grandmother of a Lincoln County toddler killed by a falling stove was arrested at the boy's funeral in Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police arrested Pearl Christian, 45, and her boyfriend, Byron Morrison, 38, on Saturday outside Evans Funeral Home in Raceland, where 2-year-old Chevy Virgil Waughtel's funeral was being held, West Virginia State Police Sgt. Christopher Wiles said.

They were charged with child neglect resulting in death.

Troopers had learned they were sleeping last Monday morning when Chevy climbed atop a kitchen stove. It then apparently toppled over, pinning him underneath.

"The guys got some information that they would be in Kentucky, and so they obtained warrants on them both and contacted the Kentucky State Police," Wiles said.

They were taken into custody just after the funeral, he said.

Chevy, the son of Betty Christian and William Waughtel, was buried in Caroline Cemetery in Raceland after a 1 p.m. funeral service. Raceland is about an hour and a half from Lincoln County.

Troopers from the Hamlin detachment went to the Branchland home of Pearl Christian last Monday morning to investigate after paramedics were called to the home to aid the toddler, who still was pinned under the stove when troopers arrived.

The grandmother and her boyfriend had been watching Chevy and four other children earlier in the day, but three of the children had left with family members, leaving the couple with Chevy and another 2-year-old boy, Wiles said. Chevy's parents were in Huntington at the time of the incident.

The two adults were sleeping as Chevy and the other boy, whose name has not been released, played on the stove.

Pearl Christian's home is in "pretty dilapidated condition," Wiles said. The floor beneath the stove was unstable and deteriorating.

Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the trapped child, and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital. A cause of death has not been released.

"It's just a tragedy," Wiles said.

Christian and Morrison are being held at the Greenup County Detention Center in Kentucky pending extradition. Wiles speculated the two could be extradited before the end of the week.

They face fines of up to $5,000 and three to 15 years in prison.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.