Tri-Cities mom ignored her baby’s skull fracture. She worried it would expose her drug problem

Recognizing signs of physical child abuse

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.
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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

A Tri-Cities mom who thought her baby would “overcome” his serious head injuries without need a doctor, is going to prison for nearly 2 1/2 years.

Savanna J. Roger, 23, was found to have severe marijuana, amphetamine and tobacco use disorders, according to a chemical dependency assessment.

She recently was ordered to prison under a special sentencing alternative, which cut the standard range in half as long as she follows drug treatment requirements while locked up.

Her boyfriend who abused the 5-month-old boy already is serving a five-year term.

The child now is 2 1/2 years old.

He has been living with his great-grandparents since his mother’s August 2017 arrest in the case. They were awarded custody of the boy in July 2018.

Roger can only have contact with the toddler if her grandparents supervise the visits.

She pleaded guilty in December 2017 to first-degree criminal mistreatment with domestic violence. However, sentencing in Franklin County Superior Court was delayed for more than 1 1/2 years, which included a short stint in inpatient drug treatment.

Caleb R. Crenshaw — who turns 22 on Thursday — pleaded guilty to second-degree assault of a child and first-degree criminal mistreatment.

He said in his plea statement that he was admitting the crimes to avoid the possibility a jury would convict him of a more serious charge.

He had a prior conviction for residential burglary in Benton County.

Child abuse investigation

Pasco police were called to the couple’s Sylvester Street apartment for a welfare check on a possible child abuse on Aug. 25, 2017.

A woman had reported concerns about a child’s well-being, saying the baby had trauma to his head, face, back and feet.

She told police she’d recently become friends with Roger and set up an Aug. 24 playdate for their two little ones.

During the playdate, she immediately noticed Roger’s baby had “a fat upper lip that was greenish and split on the inside,” a bruised ear and swelling and bruising on the back of the head.

Roger replied that she’d left her son in the care of her boyfriend on Aug. 23, 2017, when she went to the store. She returned about 30 minutes later to find the bruising, court documents said.

Roger allegedly told the woman she planned to take her son to the doctor one day.

Pasco Officer Jeffrey Cobb went to the couple’s apartment and heard a child “frantically screaming” inside and a man’s repeated shouts to “Shut up.”

After Crenshaw opened the front door, Cobb noticed clothes and other items strewn about the apartment and smelled a strong odor of trash, rotting food, feces and decay.

Crenshaw denied anything was wrong, claiming the baby fell from his arms and onto his face while being fed a bottle. He also said he was afraid his girlfriend would kick him out of their apartment.

Roger said she was suspicious about Crenshaw’s claim that the baby fell on his face.

She later told detectives she recognized her son’s injuries were serious, but feared taking him to the hospital would expose her criminal and drug history and result in the boy being taken away.

She also said she believed the baby “would overcome his injuries without the need of medical help,” court documents said.

The boy was taken to Lourdes Medical Center, where an emergency room physician diagnosed a depressed skull fracture, documents said.

Doctors considered flying the baby to a hospital in Spokane or Seattle, but instead took him to Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.