Baby Love Child banner

Adoptive Columbine tragedy: rescued 6 yr old Adopted Boy “severely malnourished” and abused

Littleton couple accused of starving, beating adopted sonChristine Arnold & Randal Arnold, adoptive parents of an unnamed 6 year old boy stand accused of abusing the child they adopted from foster care to the point of severe starvation and marks “all over his body.”

When he was finally rescued back on September 17th at 6 years old, the boy weighed a mere 30lbs, a pound less than he did at the time of his adoption  at age 3.

Upon examination, authorities found marks and bruises on the boy’s body, marks that potentially could have been made by belt buckles found in the Arnold’s house.

Initially Christine Arnold had called 911 claiming the boy had fallen down the stairs, rendering him unconscious. When first responders found “bruises and abrasions all over his body,” in various states of healing, physical evidence inconsistent with Mrs. Arnold’s story, police we brought in and both adopters were taken to jail in suspicions of child abuse. They bonded out, with an initial court appearance where formal charges were heard on September 30th.

Pound Pup Legacy has a good round up of some of the articles to date, see PPL’s page on the case, Boy adopted by Randal and Christine Arnold and the link to a PDF copy of the arrest warrant.

This video segment from, the local NBC affiliate, is from Wednesday September 29th, just prior to their Thursday Sept. 30th court appearance. In it, there is mention of previous attempts to report on the boys condition that may or may not have resulted in an investigation at the time, but either way, the boy was left with the Arnolds.

Affidavit: Parents accused of starving, beating child with belt

The affidavit says the medical staff at Littleton Hospital Emergency Room determined the boy had blood on his brain and his brain was swelling.

A doctor at the hospital says the boy suffered from “serious bodily injury” and “severe malnutrition.” The boy also suffered from various straight line, u-shaped and horseshoe type markings across his body consistent with the buckle of a belt found at the house, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit reports the Arnolds took custody of the boy on a foster-to-adopt program when he was two and a half years old. That adoption was completed in 2006, according to the affidavit.

According to Jefferson County Social Services, the boy was examined prior to his adoption and was measured and weighed. In 2006, the boy was in the fifty to seventy five percentiles for his height and weight. At age 3, he weighed 31 pounds. On September 17, 2010, the boy weighed 30 pounds at the age of 6, according to the affidavit.

This Fox piece also contains a bit of follow up on those earlier suspicions:

Investigators determined that the principal at the child’s school, Columbine Hills Elementary, actually called police and social services before when the child came to school with stitches in his lip.

It is unclear why no action was taken at that time.

Jefferson County Schools did not return our call seeking their comment.

Finally, this ABC 7 article and video contain some further details and an update on the boy’s condition as of about a week ago, Parents Of 30-Pound 6-Year-Old Arrested On Abuse Charges:

The boy was taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

No doubt these statements will be key as this goes to trial:

The boy’s mother, identified in the affidavit as Christine Arnold, told investigators that she was cooking and her son was playing near the stairs when she heard a crash and found him at the bottom of the stairs.

The boy’s father, Randal Arnold, said he didn’t see any injuries on his son prior to seeing him in the hospital the day paramedics were called to the house.

Investigators said Randal Arnold’s statement was at odds with a phone call he made to Columbine Hills Elementary School the day before, telling the school that his son had fallen out of bed and had “banged his head.”

After being rescued, he appears to be doing better and gaining some weight.

The hospital said the boy gained 5 pounds in five days while he was at the hospital.

As for conditions in the home and the boy’s story of his life in the Arnold’s house:

During a subsequent interview, the boy told a forensic interviewer that he didn’t have any toys except for the ones that were in the basement and he had to ask to play with them. The boy said he ate breakfast and dinner in the kitchen alone and that his parents ate at a different time.

Investigators examined the boy’s room and described it as “relatively sparse,” containing a bed with a top and bottom sheet, no blanket and no pillow, two dressers and some pictures on the wall. There was a sliding chain lock on the outside of the door to the boy’s room, according to the affidavit.

The piece also contains a bit more detail about the charges and bond:

The Arnolds were arrested on Friday on suspicion of child abuse causing serious bodily injury and cruelty toward a child knowingly or recklessly causing injury, according to state arrest records. They were held without bond over the weekend.

The couple made their first court appearance Monday, where their bond was set at $25,000 each and they bonded out. They are scheduled to be formally charged on Thursday, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

If there were questions and potential signs of abuse earlier, this raises real questions of what if any, follow up social services and the Littleton, Colorado police took and how the decision to leave the boy with the Arnolds was arrived at.

As this goes to trial, the paper trail will be important to examine carefully.

Leave a Reply