Parents charged with child abuse after emaciated teen dies of pneumonia

Julie L. Carlos
Julie L. Carlos Courtesy of Norwich Police Department

Norwich — A Dunham Street couple whose severely malnourished 14-year-old son died from complications of pneumonia on May 2, 2013, was arraigned Friday in Superior Court on child abuse charges.

Julie L. Carlos and Mark S. Carlos, both 59, of 112 Dunham St. pleaded not guilty to charges of cruelty to persons and risk of injury to a minor. Free on a $150,000 non-surety bond, they left the courthouse with their attorney Bruce B. McIntyre and declined speak to a pack of reporters and cameramen that followed them to their vehicle.

Norwich Police Detective Damon R. Wallace launched an investigation last year after first responders to the Carlos home found the unconscious and critically ill Justin Carlos lying in the driveway and his five siblings, ages 11 to 22, looking thin and unkempt.

Justin Carlos and his 16-year-old brother were taken to The William W. Backus Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia. Justin was airlifted to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where he died that day.

State Medical Examiner Dr. Susan Williams conducted an autopsy and ruled the cause of death was sepsis due to bronchopneumonia complicating malnutrition and the manner of death was homicide. In her report, she noted Justin’s body was severely wasted and he had bed sores. She noted also he had a subarachnoid subdural hemorrhage, a condition usually associated with traumatic brain injury. She said he appeared in general ill health, with a type of malnutrition usually associated with a chronic infectious disease.

The 16-year-old was treated and released, and the Department of Children and Families took custody of all the minor children.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the mother homeschooled their children. Mark Carlos worked a day shift at the Naval Submarine Base and Julie Carlos worked second shift at Mohegan Sun. The two sick children had been sleeping on couches in the living room during their illnesses and were “in the general traffic area of the residence and were seen everyday by both parents.”

On May 2, 2013, Julie Carlos told her 22-year-old son, Michael Carlos, to call 911 shortly after 6 a.m. because Justin Carlos was sick and possibly fainted, according to the affidavit. When American Ambulance paramedic Zachary Gauthier arrived, Julie Carlos was performing CPR on the teen, who was lying in the driveway. Gauthier said the boy appeared “tiny” for a 14-year-old, had gray skin color and looked unhealthy. His mother said he had no medical conditions but had “cold-like symptoms, diarrhea and a cough for a couple of weeks.” The first responders checked his blood sugar, which they said was very low.

Christopher Pitman, an emergency medical technician, told Wallace that Julie Carlos “came across as monotone and unemotional” as she was treating her son in the driveway, telling him, “Hang in there,” and, “You’ll be OK.” He said the other children appeared to be in shock. The first responders were able to get a pulse on the teen en route to the hospital.

Another EMT, Paul Refuse, reported that Julie Carlos told her son, in a monotone voice, to “be a soldier” and “you can do this,” as he was being examined at Backus.

Dr. Fredericka Wolman, director of pediatrics for the Department of Children and Families, reviewed the case and reported that if the parents had sought medical treatment much earlier, Justin’s death may have been averted. She said she had never encountered that level of illness associated with pneumonia in an outpatient setting.

Julie and Mark Carlos are due back in court on June 27.

k.florin@theday.com

Mark S. Carlos
Mark S. Carlos Norwich Police Department
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