Published May 20, 2007
TULSA, Okla. – When Robert Minton heard something had happened to his 2-year-old son, Joshua, he thought the boy had been in an accident or had fallen ill.
When he arrived at the eastside residence where Joshua, and his 4-year-old sister, Heather, were being cared for, the news was much more devastating.
Paramedics had tried to revive Joshua, who was found unresponsive after the in-home day care center's owner, Vicki Leigh Chiles, bound his mouth and hands with masking tape.
Minton said Chiles said nothing to him.
"All she said to Heather was, `I love you, baby."'
The state medical examiner's office will determine the official cause of death of the Sperry boy, who was on life support when he died around 10:20 p.m. Thursday.
His mother, Kathryn Minton, said she and her husband were allowed to hold their son at the hospital.
"You could see the bruising (on his face) where the tape had been," Robert Minton said.
Chiles, 42, told police that Joshua would not be quiet for nap time and that she used masking tape to bind his hands and cover his mouth to keep him quiet, her arrest report states.
She said she left the boy unattended for a few minutes and came back to find him unresponsive. She said she removed the tape, called an ambulance and attempted CPR, the report states.
Just as efforts were under way to revive the boy, Oklahoma Department of Human Services workers arrived with an emergency order aimed at stopping her from providing any more child-care service.
The order was obtained after Tulsa County prosecutors charged her on Wednesday with abusing a minor child. Chiles was accused of hitting an 8-year-old child 10 to 12 times with a fly swatter on April 10.
According to an affidavit in that case, Chiles admitted hitting the child with the plastic device while chasing him around a room. The affidavit quotes Chiles as saying, "He had done something and I went way over the top."
George Johnson Jr., a spokesman for DHS, which oversees licensing and inspections of child-care providers, said the charge on Wednesday expedited the process of closing down the center.
"The emergency order was issued the morning after the felony was filed," Johnson said. "Two DHS workers went to execute the emergency order to cease operations immediately (on Thursday). They were going to stay until the facility was completely closed down."
Once the workers saw what had happened, they "worked with the other children in the home to calm them down and move them to a safe area to not expose them to further trauma," Johnson said. There were at least seven other children at the home.
The Mintons said that when they left their two children in Chiles' care on Thursday, they did not know about the charge filed against her on Wednesday.
The couple said they did their homework before letting Chiles watch their children — checking with DHS, doing a background check and checking references with other people who had youngsters in her care — and that nothing raised their suspicions. They enrolled the children in her day-care home last summer.
Now, the Mintons are struggling to cope with their loss.
"You had no right to take him from us," Kathryn Minton said. "That's all I can say to her (Chiles). You had no right."