Updated – Janice Mowdy and Stephanie Bell Starved Austin Watkins to Death


The Mississippi Department of Human Services took Austin James Watkins and his three siblings away from their mother at some point in the last few years and gave their care to their grandmother in Lena, Mississippi to care for. In hindsight I guess someone at MDHS is now saying ‘oh, shit’.

Last Sunday the Scott County Sheriff’s Department was called to the house of Janice Mowdy and Stephanie Bell, caregivers for Austin. He had died at home, appeared to have been sick and looked much younger than four years old according to to Sheriff Lee. As a matter of fact he was only 19 pounds when he died from starvation. The police think that it had been at least two weeks since he was given anything to eat besides water and his organs just shut down as a result. Three other children also live in the home and they were all removed on Sunday by MDHS.

In addition to the awful crime of starving a child, tacked to a wall in their trailer was a $10,000 life insurance policy on Austin. It may or may not have been a motive in the death of the little boy but right now police are treating it as part of the investigation. 

Janice Mowdy, 43 and Stephanie Bell, 22 have both been charged with Murder and Felony Child Abuse and are being held without bond at the Scott County Detention Center. Of course both of the women deny having done anything wrong.
So we know who was watching Austin, where are the parents? As I mentioned at the top all four children were taken away from the mother, Tammy Watkins about a year ago. The father? Janice’s son Kenny Watkins is serving time in the Scott County Jail for a parole violation after having served time for Statutory Rape. The funeral was held on Thursday and Kenny was let out of jail long enough to attend the funeral of his son and appeared pretty shaken at his death.

Updated 9/29/09 – Janice Mowdy and Stephanie Bell both pleaded guilty to Capital Murder in the case against them and they have been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Both of the women offered nothing but sorry excuses for their behavior right up until sentencing but at least they pleaded guilty.

Nobody in the family showed up for their sentencing.

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11 throughts on "Updated – Janice Mowdy and Stephanie Bell Starved Austin Watkins to Death"

  1. It’s a complete outrage that this was allowed to happen. I read about this horrific tragedy in yesterday’s (11/15/08) edition of the clarionledger. There I read that a daycare provider noticed and questioned the grandmother as she (the grandmother) withdrew him from the facility. The daycare provider stated that she didn’t want to be involved. Mistake number two. The daycare provider has an obligation to report suspected child abuse. How is it that if a child were to go to school with a bruise from something as simple as actually falling down and having DHS called to investigate to a child being the defenseless age of 4 and noticeably neglected and absolutely nothing being done?!?!?!?! the daycare provider needs to be charged with something as well. In today’s Sunday edition (11/16/08) I read that the grandmother stated that she felt that Little Austin wasn’t her grandson. Mississippi department of Human services is an outright JOKE!!!!! They don’t have the best interest of these children at heart. they could careless if any of the children in the system are cared for. For them it isn’t their problem. they storm into homes rip families apart, some for good reason others for BS. and place these kids in another horrible environment. they don’t follow up with these kids and honestly careless what happens to them.

  2. As numb as we all get from reading about murder and other horrific crimes so frequently, this makes my heart bleed. I literally cried when I read this. Worse, interviews with other relatives (their sick, twisted 15 minutes of fame, I guess) where, though tears, they talked about how they had SEEN what was going on and did NOTHING to help this little boy–I was glad to read this morning that they too could be held accountable. Keeping an insurance policy tacked up on his bedroom wall? Allowing him to eat only what fell on the floor when the rest of the family ate and (I read this today) having him eat whatever was CRAWLING around of the floor of the trailer to try to stay alive? And, take a look at the two of them. Fat. They starved this boy to death because they thought his dad WASN’T their brother/son? They tortured that little boy. His life (and his last days) were a living hell. This is so inhumane and sick that it is difficult to even think about. If this doesn’t end up being classified as a capital crime, there is no justice.

  3. Sunni, my feelings exactly. While we do need SOME sort of a watchdog for these idiots that refuse to take care of and mistreat children the current crop of bureaucrats running family and children services around the country just aren’t getting it done, social workers are under paid, overworked and in plenty of cases just don’t give a shit.
    As far as the day care provider, I agree that they should have immediately called the law and DHS if they felt even slightly uncomfortable about the way that the child was being treated.

  4. I met this little boy while he was in the hospital right after DHS took him away from his mom and he first moved in with his aunt. He was hungry all the time and begged for food constantly. He was so sweet and smart too. He did not trust anyone, and was afraid to be touched(winced if you moved to touch him). I cant believe DHS did nothing then. DHS in Jackson is a joke. I have seen this before. they knew what kind of environment they were putting him in, but their ONLY goal is to keep the kid with someone in the family. Poor Austin. I will always remember him and his sweet smile. I hope those two ladies enjoy Hell.

  5. My heart cries out for what happened to this child. What sick minded individuals could do this something like this to a child.
    This is where I would love to see eye for eye justice, put those two ladies in a room and see how they like being starved to death.
    DHS has a responsibility to follow up on every child placement it needs to be as frequent as every 3/6 months this would not have happened if DHS was truly doing there job.

  6. I wish that people could really understand the severity of this case. I know that when you hear that a 4 year old child was starved to death it blows your mind. I want everyone to know that this child was tortured. Little Austin had bruises on the tops of his hands, his wrist, his ankles and on top of his feet. There was also a bruise on his head. This baby boy had bruises on his private area….from what is speculated as “roach bites”…. A child that would have been 5 years old last friday died because 2 monsters, one that he called grandmother and one that he called aunt murdered him. A baby boy layed in his bed and took his last breath while his organs were shuting down and who knows where the grandmother and aunt were while this was happening. I have heard that they were having a party and that is what took them so long to call 911…..they were cleaning up the beer cans. But to hear them talk…Austin was alive mid-morning…..lies….that child had been dead for a while…. This case has affected many people…but I know that there is one amazing woman that will be forever haunted by the sight she saw when she walked into Austins room to try and save his life on that Sunday morning…..the Paramedic…..Please pray for her sanity…. As for the two bitches that did this to that poor baby boy….I wish these two women would be forced to starve to death….the same painful death that little innocent Austin had to indure

  7. Everyone who has commented so far is very right. I hate these sorry bitches and hope they get tortured in or out of jail. I believe in God and I know that they will pay but right now this is what I feel. I pray that someone in jail will take thier food & beat the hell out of them in memory of this poor tortured child.. a childs life should be filled with happieness, not starvation & torture from two fat hogs (probably in-breds). I wish I could get my hands on them for 5 minutes. There is no justice for what they have done. God shall see to it though. Sick, sick sorry low-lifes who cannot be classified as human beings.

  8. I am Thankful that God took his tiny Angel home to be with him. I am Thankful his Angel will forget about all of the horrible things that he had to endure in his short life here on Earth. He will never be hungry. He will never hurt. He will forever live in the Glory of Heaven and I pray that knowing this will give us a little comfort and take away the anger that we have in our hearts.
    For the sake of Austin Watkins Memory – I Pray that we will ALL be the voices of these Children who often go unheard…..and NOT allow this to happen to another Child.

  9. eye for an eye , this is the worse thing that ive read in a long time , hopefuly the other inmates at scott county detintion center will do the right thing and murder both of theses animals . i would !!. if you know of a child abuse act and you do not act you are guilty of the same thing. when are we as a country going to stand for this no more and do what ever it takes to stop it .

  10. whats the name of the case worker on this case . they are justas responsible id like to see them hangin in front of the state house grounds . this child should be avenged . now , everyone that even had an idea should be killed with no mercy . and if there was a party everyone there should be questioned. its time its time im a man with a son that is the same age . im tired of it im callin on all men in this country we are here to protect our kids . its time the system has failed at this obligaition . so its our responsibilitie .im tired of it .and if you are

  11. It is an absolute travisity that this child had to die this way. I personaly have a 4 year old boy and can’t understand who in their right mind could allow this to happen to this baby. My prayer for these two ladies that did this to this child is that #1 God’s mercy; only he can give forgiveness for sins and even this one is forgivable! #2 That they see their wronge in this and repent of their sins! The DHS officials that were in charge of this case should be ashamed of them selves! There are families out their who would take these babies in a heart beat I being one of them. This case sould wake the “system” up and make them understand that they sould look deeper than keeping kids together and/or with their natural families. They can be a family with any family who loves and respecets them. Yes every child should be respected and they sould also give respect that is due.

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