By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Three Richlands area residents have been arrested and charged in connection with the death of an 8-month-old boy in Tazewell County.
Deputies have arrested the child’s mother, Star Adams, 20, of Richlands, Va. Monica Walker, 27, and William “Willie” Hilbert, 45, were also arrested, said Sheriff Brian Hieatt of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.
Walker and Hilbert have been charged with causing serious injury to a child under the age of 18, which is a Class 4 felony, said Major Harold Heatley of the sheriff’s office. This charge carries a possible penalty from two to 20 years in prison. Adams has been charged with the abandonment of the child, a Class 6 felony which carries a penalty of one to five years imprisonment.
Hieatt said all three persons might face additional and more serious charges when the results of the child’s autopsy becomes available. The child’s name was not being released as of Friday.
On Wednesday morning, the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center received an emergency call of an infant child who wasn’t breathing. Walker was driving the baby to Clinch Valley Medical Center in her car, Hieatt said. Medical responders were dispatched and met her at the hospital.
“When they arrived at the hospital, the child was already deceased,” Hieatt said.
Emergency room physicians noted the baby’s injuries and contacted authorities. This prompted an investigation into the child’s death from the Tazewell County Sheriff and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office along with the Department of Social Services and the Virginia State Police. The sheriff’s office was also assisted by the Richlands Police Department, Hieatt said.
“From what our investigation is showing right now, the injuries would have occurred throughout the night, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning,” he said. declining to describe the nature of those injuries.
Adams had left the child with Walker and Hilbert, Hieatt said. Investigators did not know as of Friday why she did this or where she went after leaving her child. She usually left the baby with other members of her family.
“The mother is charged with abandoning the child in an unsafe and unfit place,” Hieatt said. Adams does not have any other children. Walker has one child; that child has been placed with a grandmother.
The father of Adams’ baby is currently incarcerated on unrelated charges, Hieatt said. The baby was his only son, and he had spent only two weeks with the child before going to prison.
Three search warrants were executed at homes s in the Richlands and Road Ridge areas and on Walker’s vehicle. It had been determined the child had been at both homes, Hieatt said.
Adams, Walker, and Hilbert are being held without bond by the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority in their Tazewell facility. Preliminary hearings had not been scheduled as of Friday.