3 Year Old's Statements Lead to Homicide Investigation
The 3-year-old son of a missing North Carolina teacher told investigators that he hadn’t seen his mother since her boyfriend “kicked mommy’s butt and made her cry,” it was reported Monday.
The little boy was interviewed by detectives after his mother, Bianca Tanner, 31, disappeared from her Charlotte home on June 7, WSOC-TV reported.
Tanner had recently moved in with her boyfriend, Angelo Smith, after getting a job with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the news station reported.
Smith told investigators that he had an argument with Tanner when she was drunk before she left the apartment carrying a bag, according to warrants obtained by the news station.
But the case turned into a homicide investigation after cops talked to Tanner’s son, who said his mother was attacked.
“Mommy got a spanking with a belt,” the unidentified child told police, the documents show.
Note that even a 3 year old's language can be seen as straight forward and simple. It also reveals what he experienced.
“Angelo kicked mommy’s butt and made her cry.”
The toddler later said that “Angelo is mean to mommy and hurt mommy in the face.”
Note repetition of "mommy" making her very important to him. The 3 year old's statements are credited with turning this into a homicide investigation. It is not likely that the 3 year old will be called to the stand to testify.
In a child protective case in which the 3 year old will be placed, possibly with relatives, his statements can be used.
In interviewing a child, police must be very careful to:
1. not give him any language. This begins with "What happened?"
2. get him to describe his own language
It appears he used "spanking", which would then lead them to ask, "What is a spanking?" and "where does spanking happen?"
Each word that he uses is then asked about, just as "Analytical Interviewing" is used in adult interviews.
Court papers show that investigators are searching for a belt or paddle, cellphones and the clothes Tanner was wearing during the alleged assault, WSOC-TV reported.
Police are also searching for any evidence of blood inside the Druid Circle apartment.
Smith — who had an outstanding warrant for domestic battery in Arkansas after trying to smother his girlfriend during a fight — was not named as a suspect in Tanner’s disappearance, the news station reported.
Tanner moved in late May from Greensboro, where she taught second grade at Reedy Fork Elementary School in Greensboro