Sapulpa couple faces child abuse charges after boy found malnourished with black eye

CREEK COUNTY, Okla. — An 11-year-old boy is in state custody after Sapulpa police found him bruised and extremely malnourished hiding behind a dumpster at a gas station.

The boy’s mother and stepfather, Stephanie Denton and Shawn Deatherage, were arrested on child abuse charges Tuesday.

Police said an officer found the boy around 2 a.m. and he was taken to a hospital. Court documents say the boy was wearing only shorts, no shirt or shoes, and weighed about 58 pounds.

Documents say the boy appeared to be malnourished and very skinny with multiple bruises, including a black eye. Investigators also saw scars that looked to be from cigarette burns on the boy’s body.

Documents said Denton, the boy’s mother, filed a missing persons report for the boy later that day after she saw the boy was gone when she went to get him ready for school.

Police asked Denton about the boy’s injuries, to which she said she didn’t know how he got the bruises. She said he got scars that looked like cigarette burns from rubbing his arms on the carpet.

Denton consented to a police search of her home where officers met Deatherage, the boy’s stepfather, in the garage smoking a cigarette.

Documents say the boy’s bedroom did not have any doorknobs and there was only a mattress with a sheet, blanket, and pillow in the room.

Investigators noted a magnetic plate drilled into crown molding, which they suspect was where a surveillance camera was mounted and taken down before officers arrived at the home. Investigators later saw a surveillance camera on Denton and Deatherage’s bed that had a magnetic backing.

The boy told investigators he was confined to his bedroom and forced to sleep in his closet. He said he was only allowed to urinate in a two-liter bottle.

According to documents, child abuse investigators said the boy’s injuries were caused by Deatherage punching the boy, as well as scarring from cigarette burns. Investigators also noted carpet burns on the boy from when he said he was dragged across the carpet by Deatherage.

Police said a young girl also lives in the home.

The boy was not enrolled in Sapulpa Public Schools, according to a spokesperson for the district. He’s now in the custody of the Department of Human Services.

Denton and Deatherage face charges of child neglect spanning eight years since Jan. 1, 2015.

Denton and Deatherage were both taken into custody on Tuesday. Documents say neither of them has a criminal history.

Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan

News Editor

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