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Raytown man, woman accused of 'child torture' in abuse case that left victim on ventilator

James Griffin, Penny Woods
Posted at 7:52 PM, Jun 03, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Raytown man and woman are accused of "child torture" in an abuse case that left the victim severely injured, hospitalized and intubated on a ventilator, according to court documents.

James Griffin, 39, and Penny Woods, 37, are both charged with abuse or neglect of a child, causing serious emotional or physical injury, for the alleged crimes.

On the day the victim landed in the hospital, his mother told staff that her son hadn't been under her care for some years.

Instead, the victim had been living with his god mother.

The god mother told the victim's mother she no longer wanted to take care of him and requested the mother pick him up.

As they were going to the mother's apartment, the victim collapsed and an ambulance was called.

Victim severely injured, doctors diagnose 'child torture'

On Friday, May 31, a children's division's worker at Children's Mercy Hospital contacted the Raytown Police Department to report child abuse, according to court documents.

On arrival, the officer learned the victim, only identified in court documents as a juvenile male, had extensive injuries to his body.

The injuries includes scars, open sores, bruises and burns.

The victim also appeared to have an infected ear that was nearly swollen shut with scabbing over it.

It was also reported the victim was first taken to North Kansas City Hospital, where he received a mass transfusion.

He also displayed an altered mental status, apparent chronic malnutrition, hypothermia, hypotension and a fracture to his spine, among other disturbing injuries.

The victim's injuries were so extensive that a physician at Children's Mercy diagnosed him with "child torture."

This was "due to the degree of injury both present and past going beyond traditional diagnoses of child abuse," according to court documents.

Based on information police received and medical records, hospital staff believed the victim was at a high risk of life-threatening deterioration in his condition.

The victim showed indications of heart failure, and hospital staff noted how his condition began to regress, requiring him to remain intubated on a ventilator because he couldn't breathe on his own.

Forensic photos showed impressions on the victim that were consistent with ones that would be found on a person bound by a ligature, according to court documents.

Search warrant executed

On June 1, a search warrant was executed on the home where Griffin and Woods lived with the victim.

Investigators observed several rooms, including one where the victim stayed. They also noted how his room was mostly empty.

During the search, investigators noted how there was dried up blood on parts of walls, the ceiling and a ceiling fan.

Testing also uncovered that there had been a large amount of blood on the carpet that may have been cleaned up in an attempt to potentially cover up the evidence of the blood.

Suspects interviewed

Both Woods and Griffin were taken into custody and interviewed separately.

Woods initially denied any abuse to the victim, but later admitted to whipping the victim and his sister with a telephone cord but said she hadn't done so in a while.

She later admitted that Griffin locked the victim's windows, secured his bedroom doors and that Griffin had been beating the victim every other day for the past six months.

Woods said she was afraid of Griffin and that is why she didn't interfere.

Griffin denied the abuse allegations, saying "[police] didn’t have anything on him."

He also said he wasn't responsible for taking care of the children.

A judge set a $75,000, cash only bond for the pair.