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.