Clallam County Corrections Deputy Alicia Newhouse helps Ramona Ward to her seat during a hearing in Port Angeles on Monday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam County Corrections Deputy Alicia Newhouse helps Ramona Ward to her seat during a hearing in Port Angeles on Monday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks woman charged in toddler’s death

PORT ANGELES — A Forks woman was charged Wednesday with homicide by abuse and second-degree murder for the death of a 2-year-old boy.

Ramona Jean Ward, 44, is accused of physically abusing a toddler who was in her care over the course of several weeks, Clallam County sheriff’s investigators said.

Each charge contains special allegations that the victim was vulnerable and that Ward was in a position of trust.

The murder charge carries an additional allegation that Ward’s conduct “manifested deliberate cruelty to the victim,” charging papers said.

Ward will be arraigned at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court.

She was being held Wednesday in the Clallam County jail on $300,000 bail.

Ward phoned 9-1-1 from her residence on the 1700 block of Calawah Way to report that the boy was unresponsive and not breathing Nov. 9, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.

The boy was rushed to Forks Community Hospital and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he died Friday morning.

Dr. James Metz, a child protection physician who assists Harborview, told Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Brian Knutson that the boy had bleeding in his eyes consistent with severe head trauma, according to the affidavit for probable cause.

“[The boy] also had swelling in his brain,” Knutson wrote in his arrest report.

“Dr. Metz described the injuries to [the boy] as evidence of ‘torture’ over a period of time.”

The victim was identified only by his initials in court documents.

Clallam County Chief Criminal Sheriff’s Deputy Brian King has said the only motive was “indifference to the baby’s life.”

Ward told investigators that she considered the victim and his siblings to be her grandchildren, saying she took care of the children when her daughter, the primary caretaker, was at work, court papers said.

The boy and two of his siblings were placed into the custody of the primary caretaker by Indian Child Welfare, Ward told the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office has not confirmed the exact relationship between the boy and Ward. The two were related but were not mother and son, King has said.

Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Gene Hoagland identified multiple injuries on the boy, including sores and scratches in various stages of healing and a large bruise on his forehead, according to Knutson’s report.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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