The family of a toddler who was choked and smothered said there were concerns of abuse and neglect long before 2-year-old Jocelyn Belcher was killed.
Her mother, Crystal Belcher, has been arrested for neglect. Belcher’s boyfriend, Shane Patton, is also under investigation and has been named a person of interest.
Baby Jocelyn was found unresponsive in a home in the 200 block of Butler street Jan. 27. According to court documents, Belcher found the toddler wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the crib. When Belcher pulled the blanket away, Jocelyn was blue and barely breathing.
Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
“It’s just unthinkable to imagine what else has happened in that house,” said Kim Gibbs, Jocelyn’s aunt.
Gibbs said her death could have been prevented. Multiple people warned Belcher that Patton had a history of hurting children, she said.
Newschannel 15 obtained a copy of a complaint filed with the Department of Children’s Services on Sept. 17, 2017. It is the most recent of three reports filed by a woman accusing Patton of sexually abusing her 4-year-old daughter.
According to the report, that child told a case worker that Patton “touched her private area.” A doctor recommended she go to a sexual assault treatment center but the child refused to be examined.
The report cites similar allegations made twice in 2016 involving the same child. Patton reportedly denied those allegations.
The caseworker was scheduled to meet with Patton on Oct. 16. 2017 but he never showed up for the appointment, the document said. The caseworker attempted to call Patton but he did not answer. She left a voicemail but Patton never returned the call.
DCS closed the case citing a lack of evidence to support abuse.
As for baby Jocelyn’s case, her siblings told police they would hear Patton smack her at bedtime. An autopsy revealed she had injuries consistent with abusive trauma.
It is unclear if the alleged abuse was reported to DCS prior to Jocelyn’s death.
“I would have never thought that she would have anything to do with this but facts are there and that’s just what it is,” said Gibbs. “People just need to be more cautious.”
Police initially questioned Patton in January when the toddler was found dead. He has since been named a person of interest and police are looking for him.
Patton is described as a white man, 5-feet-9 and 200 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 427-1222.