PHOENIX (KTVK) – An Arizona couple is facing more than half a dozen felony charges in connection with the alleged abuse of their five children, including a baby who died and another who was found to have a traumatic brain injury.
Police arrested Donald Roy Ferguson, 38, and Emmaline Amelia Ramirez, 29, on Tuesday, Jan. 7, two days after firefighters responded to the Phoenix hotel where the family was staying and pronounced one of their 1-month-old babies dead. The couple called 911 late the night of Sunday, Jan. 5 because that baby was not breathing. Their other children, another 1-month-old baby, a 15-month-old, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old, were in the room, as well.
According to court documents, Ramirez had gone to the store earlier in the day when Ferguson called her to come home because the baby “was choking and unresponsive.” Ferguson said he saw her “perform CPR” on the infant. A few hours later, the baby stopped breathing again. This time they called 911. While firefighters were at the hotel, the other 1-month-old started to have trouble breathing. Doctors at Banner Thunderbird Hospital found that the second baby had “traumatic head injuries to include necrotic tissues and brain bleeds.” That baby was transferred to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
The Department of Child Safety took the remaining children into custody, and police took Ferguson and Ramirez in for questioning. The three kids were “found to have a lice infestation …, extremely soiled diapers, and insects crawling out of their ears.” Doctors also found that the 15-month-old had “multiple skull fractures,” according to the probable cause for arrest statement.
According to court documents, Ferguson admitted that he had hit Ramirez after losing his temper “but denied hitting, harming, or hurting the children.” He said he “was too scared to hold the small children.” Police say he also told them that his oldest child, the 6-year-old, "would hide under the bed when he yelled” and that the 4-year-old “would cling to Emmaline and cry.” Ramirez told investigators the same thing, according to her probable cause for arrest statement.
Police said the 4-year-old told them that Ferguson “threw [the baby who died] on the ground.” Ramirez denied that, saying that Ferguson “would harm his children.”
Court documents note that an autopsy on the baby revealed “no signs of deadly traumatic injuries …, however, additional medical testing is ongoing.”
Investigators said both Ferguson and Ramirez admitted failing to get medical attention for their kids when they should have.
Ferguson, according to his public court paperwork, has previous arrests and convictions for domestic violence and vandalism. No details were immediately available, and no criminal history is noted on Ramirez’s documents.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed seven felony child abuse charges against the couple. Ferguson faces an additional felony charge of resisting arrest.