An 18-month-old child was found badly beaten in a Fircrest apartment Thursday and was hospitalized in critical condition; his 3-year-old brother was also treated for injuries. The boyfriend of the childrens' mother was arrested in the case.
Stephan V. Perebeynos, 28, is being held at the Pierce County Jail
Perebeynos' bail is set at $5 million; he is a Russian national and prosecutors are concerned that if he were able travel back to Russia, extradition could be complicated.
The mother of the children, Heather Berven, was not at the residence when the incident occured.
"There was no sign of anything [violent] ever," she said Thursday night outside of Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, where her two children were being treated. "All I know is that he hurt my babies.
"He's [the baby] in and out of consciousness," she said, crying. "He looks at me but he's not responsive. He has hemorrhaging in his brain."
The family had been involved in three prior reports to Child Protection Services. The most recent was in August, 2011, when the Puyallup Tribal Health Care authorities called about a suspicious injury in the then-nine-month-old's mouth.
The other reports occurred in May and October of 2010, and involved allegations about the parents' behavior. However, no allegations of abuse or neglect were made, and the parents were not screened for investigation.
On Friday, the 18-month-old's condition was upgraded from critical to stable, but he is suffering from subdural hematoma. The hospital would not speculate on how this will impact him long-term. His 3-year-old brother suffered a broken arm and had multiple bruises on his body.
On Thursday, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Perebeynos told deputies when they arrived at the residence that he had been left in charge of his girlfriend's three children while she was away getting medical treatment.
Berven was at an in-patient drug rehabilitation facility, prosecutors said on Friday.
Deputies rushed the 18-month-old to the hospital, but the 3-year-old boy could not be found and Perebeynos told them the boy had been kidnapped four days earlier. That set off a frantic police search.
Perebeynos also later told detectives that the children's father, who currently lives in Oregon, had come up and taken the children. The father did not take the children and prosecutors believe that Perebeynos called his sister to come and get the 3-year-old and take him from the home. They believe Perebeynos did this because the 3-year-old's injuries were more visible than those of the 18-month-old.
Hours later, detectives said one of Perebeynos' relatives was watching TV and saw the news story and took the 3-year-old boy to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. Initially, it was believed that his injuries were not very serious but then hospital staff discovered that his arm had been broken.
Berven also has a 7-year-old daughter, who detectives located at a nearby school. The girl was unharmed and placed into state custody.
Perebeynos is expected to be charged Monday. Deputies are continuing their investigation of him on suspicion of first-degree assault of a child.
CHAIN OF EVENTS
The chain of events was set off Thursday afternoon, when the Fircrest Police Department responded to a 911 call reporting an unconscious child at a residence in the 1000 block of Panorama Drive. The call had been placed by the mother’s boyfriend, who stated that the child would not wake up.
"Responding police and firefighters found an 18-month-old child with major head trauma and bruising on the child’s body," the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said. "The child was rushed to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in critical condition."
Of Berven's three children, the third one — a 7-year-old girl — was placed into protective custody after she was found safe at a nearby school. Investigators said that Perebeynos was watching the three children while their mother was away