Autopsy: 2½-year-old boy died of blunt-force trauma to the head

Ramona Ward

Ramona Ward

PORT ANGELES — A 2½-year-old boy allegedly killed last month by a Forks woman who was caring for him died of blunt-force trauma to the head, according to the preliminary results of an autopsy.

Ramona J. Ward, 44, of the 1700 block of Calawah Way, has been charged with homicide by abuse and second-degree murder in the death of the boy, whose first name is Isaac, who because of developmental issues used grunts and gestures to communicate, according to the probable cause statement.

Ward, who remained in the Clallam County jail on $300,000 bail Tuesday, has a status hearing on the charges at 1:30 p.m. Friday in county Superior Court.

Quileute Indian Child Welfare had placed Isaac into the foster care of a relative of Ward’s who had Ward caring for the child, Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said last week.

The relative and Ward are Quileute tribal members, he said.

Sgt. Eric Munger said Monday the autopsy, performed by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, showed that the boy had two head wounds, causing brain bleed, as well as additional injuries including scars, abrasions and some scratches that were recent when he died.

“The little guy had a broken tibia [leg bone], scapula [shoulder blade] and clavicle [collar bone],” Munger said.

The bone breaks were four to six weeks old and did not appear to have been treated, he added.

The boy also had a distended stomach and sores from infantigo, a bacterial infection, according to the probable cause statement.

“There were multiple injuries over a period of time,” Munger said.

Isaac’s custodial mother, who had four children of her own, was given custody of Isaac and his two brothers May 5, she told investigators. The three children were a relative’s. Ward took care of the seven children when the custodial mother was working, according to law enforcement officers.

Ten people lived at the residence, including seven children — a standard double-wide manufactured home of about 1,200 to 1,700 square feet, officers said.

After Isaac’s death on Nov. 9, the remaining six children in the house were placed into the protective custody of state Child Protective Services.

There is no evidence that the custodial mother abused the boy or that other children in the home, who ranged from Isaac’s age to pre-teens, were abused by anyone, King said.

The Sheriff’s Department is continuing to “actively investigate” if a relative of Ward’s “is criminally culpable for any wrongdoing,” King said.

“We will be looking into, is there evidence of knowledge, did [the relative] know this was occurring.

“We still have a lot of forensic work to do.”

According to the arrest narrative by Sheriff’s Department Detective Brian Knutson, Ward said in a Nov. 10 interview with law enforcement that she has an “extreme addiction” to Oxycodone.

Ward said she had been abusing the boy about once every four days for two months before his death “because she was frustrated” with him, according to the report.

“He only communicated by holding his arms up like he wanted to be held while rubbing his thumbs against his fingers as a way of communication,” according to Knutson’s account of his interview with Ward.

She said she would pick him up and drop him on his head, saying the second time she did it she did so “to teach him a lesson,” according to the report.

She also said she picked him off his feet and “threw” him down and twice pushed him into a closet causing him to hit his head on the wall.

Detectives who processed evidence at the house said they “found blood in every room,” in the form of spatter and stains, according to the statement.

“Ramona said [the boy] never cried and she didn’t think he could feel pain,” according to the statement.

The day of Isaac’s death, she needed to take him and two other children in the home with her to get her Oxycodone prescription filled, she told law enforcement officers.

Ward said she was getting ready to catch the bus to the doctor’s office to get her prescription refilled when the boy wanted attention.

She grabbed him by the throat twice and pushed him back three times, she said, causing him to hit his head twice, on a table and the metal portion a day bed in her bedroom, according to Knutson’s report.

She put him on the bed to take a shower and when she returned, he was lying on the floor.

She performed CPR on the boy, and he started breathing, but he was unresponsive and then stopped breathing, she said, according to the report.

Ward called 9-1-1 and medics arrived, transporting Isaac to Forks Community Hospital.

Ward was put under arrest after the interview with Knutson, at 8:48 p.m. Nov. 10, about 28 hours after the boy fell off the bed.

“Ramona acknowledged she understood and she hugged me expressing her sorrow for what she had done,” Knutson said in the report.

The Sheriff’s Department has consulted with the FBI as part of the investigation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs also has some oversight, King said.

Quileute Indian Child Welfare officials also will be interviewed for the investigation, King added.

The family had been living on the Quileute reservation before moving off the reservation and into the manufactured home, where they lived “for a couple of months,” King said.

“Could this abuse have started while they were living on the reservation?” King asked.

“As we continue, that investigation could trigger a greater federal involvement from the FBI.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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