Forks woman arrested in child’s death

FORKS — A 44-year-old Forks woman has been arrested for investigation of the second-degree murder of a 2-year-old boy.

Ramona Jean Ward allegedly caused a traumatic brain injury to a toddler who was in her care, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.

The boy died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Friday, Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said.

“There is no strong motive, other than indifference to the baby’s life,” King said.

King said he would not release the name of the child because of his age.

Ward, who was arrested Thursday in Forks, is expected to make her first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court at 1 p.m. Monday.

Ward phoned 9-1-1 from her residence on the 1700 block of Calawah Way to report that the boy was unresponsive at about 1:57 p.m. Wednesday, investigators said.

The toddler was rushed to Forks Community Hospital, where medical staff identified injuries consistent with abuse and neglect before he was airlifted to Harborview, King said.

Clallam County sheriff’s detectives, Port Angeles and Sequim police detectives, and a State Patrol crime lab team were investigating.

“We’re still busy working this thing,” King said in a Friday interview.

“It’s a nightmare.”

Ward was booked into the Clallam County jail for investigation of first-degree assault of a child. The recommended charge was changed to second-degree murder after the baby died Friday morning.

“We do not believe there are any other suspects, although we are continuing to investigate all angles,” King said.

King said the boy was related to Ward but was not her son.

“We’re still working on determining the specific relationship, but they are family,” King said.

No weapons were believed to have been used in the alleged murder.

“We believe it was all physical force that we refer to as strong-arm acts that she characterized, potentially, as discipline,” King said.

King would not speculate on what may have caused Ward to allegedly harm the toddler.

“At this point, a lot of it would be conjecture,” he said.

“She was just indifferent to this child’s presence or existence.”

The boy had suffered other injuries prior to the traumatic brain injury, according to the preliminary investigation.

“This is going to be one of those types of cases where it looks like this kid has been abused over a couple months’ period of time,” King said.

Six other children had been in Ward’s care, including her own, at different times in the recent past, investigators said.

No other alleged victims of abuse have been identified.

“We have conducted forensic child interviews with all of the children that we believe were living in the home over the past couple of months,” King said.

“At this time, we do not believe that there are any other victims, but we continue to investigate.”

A sheriff’s detective accompanied the baby’s family at Harborview on Friday.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has jurisdiction of the body.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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