MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan woman was bound over for trial Wednesday on charges of murder and child abuse in the death of a malnourished 15-year-old son.
Shanda Vander Ark, 43, of Norton Shores, “is intently torturing her own child,” Muskegon County District Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes said in her ruling. “His physical state is appalling.”
That child, Timothy Ferguson, weighed 69 pounds (31.3 kilograms) when he was found dead in July, The Muskegon Chronicle reported. A medical examiner determined the boy died from malnourishment and hypothermia.
Prosecutors revealed text messages Van Ark sent to her oldest son, 20-year-old Paul Ferguson, instructing him to taunt his younger brother with a frozen pizza roll and to pour hot sauce on the younger brother’s genitals. Paul Ferguson wouldn't do the latter.
The woman and Paul Ferguson also allegedly subjected Timothy Ferguson to ice baths, restrained him with shackles and zip ties and starved him for a month.
Paul Ferguson spoke of giving the younger brother an ice bath the day before his death, leaving him in the tub for at least four hours. Paul Ferguson said he did so only because Van Ark said to.
Pictures of Timothy Ferguson’s lifeless body shown in court showed bruises and his ribs nearly visible through his skin.
Timothy Ferguson had some mental disabilities and was instead being home-schooled, prosecutors have said.
Vander Ark was found competent to stand trial last month.
Paul Ferguson faces one count of first-degree child abuse in his brother's death.