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April 30, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Buckley woman accused of putting bleach in young daughter’s eyes

A Buckley woman was charged today with first-degree child assault after authorities say she repeatedly put bleach into her young daughter’s eyes.

Jennifer Lynn Mothershead, 29, was booked into the Pierce County Jail on Friday. She is being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

The abuse was suspected by doctors at Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital after the girl, who was then 14 months old, was airlifted to Harborview on May 12, 2011. The child was hospitalized for a brain injury, and doctors found “bruising and an eye infection that was concerning,” Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Grant Blinn wrote in charges.

The girl might be permanently blinded, charges said.

She was removed from her mother’s custody last year. Now 2 years old, she lives with her father. The couple are separated, authorities said.

When asked last year about the eye infection, Mothershead said the girl’s eyes had been swollen shut for about four weeks and that the child slept almost 22 hours each day, according to charges. She believed the girl had “a corneal abrasion” caused by playing in a barn. Mothershead told investigators she had antibiotics and eye drops for the girl and that the child fought her when she put them in her eyes, so much so that she needed to have the child¬†“swaddled,”¬† prosecutors said.

When hospital staff opened the medications, a “noxious odor filled the room” and staff complained of burning eyes and mild nausea, charges said. The case detective smelled the medication and noticed a strong chemical odor, and her eyes began watering. A laboratory test revealed bleach in the drops, charges said.

Blinn, the prosecutor, said the case took almost a year to charge because of the need for laboratory work and an investigation by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

“The motive isn’t 100 percent clear yet. Detectives are continuing to investigate,” Blinn said.

 

 

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: child assault, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Pierce County Sheriff's Office

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