The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 11, 2010

State Police arrest man in child’s death

By Kara Van Pelt and Andrea Lannom
REGISTER-HERALD REPORTERS

— A Summers County man was jailed on a murder charge Wednesday night in the death of an 18-month-old child in what a State Police investigator called the worst case of child abuse she had ever seen.

James R.L. Meadows, 19, was arrested and charged with murder and death by a custodian in the death of Isabella Danielle Hurley. He was booked into Southern Regional Jail around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday.

State Police Sgt. Melissa Clemmons said Isabella was in the care of Meadows, the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother, when the incident took place. The mother was not home.

“We arrested Meadows based on the results of the autopsy that was done on the child and the fact that he was the only one home when the fatal injury occurred,” Clemmons said.

Charges are pending against the mother, 24-year-old Cristen Hurley, Clemmons said.

Isabella was rushed to Summers County Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hinton last Thursday after EMS was called by a neighbor to the Hilldale area of Summers County off W.Va. 3.

She was later transported to Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston.

Police said medical staff declared the child brain dead after a series of tests Saturday and she was removed from life support.

Clemmons, who was contacted by Child Protective Services the day of the incident, said Meadows had taken the child next door to a neighbor and asked for help, claiming she had fallen off a couch.

Initial statements from the mother and her boyfriend said the child had fallen off the couch multiple times, as well as the bed, according to Clemmons.

But Clemmons said the autopsy report from the state medical examiner declared Isabella’s multiple injures, which varied in age, were non-accidental and inconsistent with statements provided by Meadows and Hurley.

Clemmons said the child died as a result of her injuries. Funeral services for Isabella were held Wednesday.

— E-mail: kvanpelt@register-herald.com