MIDDLETOWN, Ind. — A Middletown man and a Crawfordsville mother are under arrest after claiming a ladder fell on a toddler and badly bruised the boy. Police said the child wasn’t taken to a hospital after the injury, however, and claimed a medical inspection didn’t align with the ladder excuse.
Rhianna “Paige” Palmer, 28, and Zach Prilaman, 29, were both arrested on Monday under charges of battery resulting in injury to a child, a Level 5 felony and neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury, a Level 5 felony.
According to court documents, Crawfordsville police officers were asked to do a welfare check on a toddler on June 15 due to a grandfather’s concern that the child was being abused. Police said the child, who was a few months shy of turning 2 years old, had bruising on his face, forehead and neck.
After Henry County Department of Child Services were contacted, the toddler was taken into DCS custody and driven to Riley Children’s Hospital. The sheriff’s department was then informed about the possible abuse.
Deputies drove to Middletown where Palmer was reportedly staying with Prilaman after recently separating from the toddler’s father.
According to court documents, Prilaman originally denied knowing Palmer and shut the door in the deputies faces. Several minutes later, however, both Prilaman and Palmer exited the home and agreed to go to the sheriff’s department for questioning.
Prilaman answered few questions, however, other than clarifying that Palmer had recently begun staying with him.
Court documents reveal that Palmer told deputies about her son’s injuries and claimed the child had been walking down a hallway when he touched a ladder and caused it to fall over and land on the child. This story, however, contradicted the story Palmer reportedly told the child’s grandfather.
According to a police report, the grandfather told Crawfordsville police that Palmer told him the toddler was walking on a concrete walkway when a ladder fell on his head, not that the child was inside Prilaman’s home at the time of the alleged accident.
Palmer claimed to have called family members after the toddler was injured who advised her to take the boy to a doctor. Palmer admitted to police that she didn’t follow the advice, however, and instead gave the child Tylenol and “the boob all day.”
When pressed about why she didn’t take the child to a hospital, Palmer said neither she nor Prilaman had a driver’s license. She later told police that Prilaman also told her no when she broached the subject of taking the child to a hospital. She claimed Prilaman said he “couldn’t risk it,” according to court documents.
Deputies reportedly pushed back against the ladder story and told Palmer they didn’t buy it. They told Palmer that doctors said the injuries weren’t consistent with those of a ladder.
Palmer eventually admitted to knowing “a ladder isn’t going to do that much damage,” according to the court documents. She also confessed to police about being afraid of Prilaman and told deputies the man had often mocked the toddler and called him “slow.”
She also said that Prilaman had frequently pressed in close while repeatedly telling her, “I hope you know I didn’t hurt your child.”
Palmer told police that she was currently on probation for a charge of false informing out of Montgomery County. She admitted to possibly be wanted out of Georgia as well on a burglary charge.
Court records show that Prilaman was recently charged in Henry County with intimidation and resisting law enforcement. He also has prior charges that involve driving while suspended.