Sep. 6—ALEXANDRIA — Three children were so frightened of their mother that they told police they were scared to be seen talking to authorities.
One child later told a police officer that they were frightened that if they told anyone what was happening, they “would not believe them and leave them there with their mom,” according to an affidavit of probable cause by Alexandria Police Department Sgt. Adam Rue.
Heather Renna McGonigle, 52, of Alexandria, is charged with three counts of Level 5 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury, Level 5 felony battery resulting in bodily injury person under 14, Level 5 felony battery by means of a deadly weapon and three counts of Level 6 felony intimidation.
McGonigle appeared before Madison County Magistrate Kevin Eads for an initial hearing Aug. 30.
The mother of a child who is friends with one of McGonigle’s children reported the alleged abuse to authorities in July, according to Rue. He said when he first spoke with the children, they expressed fear of retaliation if they were seen in public talking with him.
Three of the children who live with McGonigle met with Rue at the police station and talked about several things that have happened in their home and allegations of abuse.
The first child that spoke with Rue said McGonigle has rages and even if they are asleep, she will wake them up and start hitting them, according to the affidavit. The boy told Rue his mother has slammed his head into a metal closet door and held a knife to one of his sibling’s throat.
“I asked him why they did not try to get help when officers were called to the residence last month and he said that his mom threatens them to not tell police or DCS (Department of Child Services) anything,” according to the affidavit.
He said his mother has also threatened them with knives.
A second child told Rue her mother hits them in the arms, chest, legs and “technically anywhere.” The girl said that on Thanksgiving, her mother stabbed her with a fork.
“She went on to say that all three of them have been afraid to tell police or DCS what is actually happening in the house,” according to the affidavit. “She said that they were afraid we would not believe them and leave them there with their mom.”
The final child that Rue interviewed said her mother was abusive to all her children including two older siblings who do not live with them. The girl said her mother hit them and shoved them against walls. During Thanksgiving, McGonigle stabbed that girl in the shoulder with a serving fork when she asked for a deviled egg.
The girl said she tried to reach out to her older sister, who lives a few houses down the street, and the older sister called police to report there was a problem at the house. When police asked McGonigle, she said there blamed the disturbance on neighborhood children, according to the affidavit.
The last child also said her mother told them if they said anything to authorities or anyone else, she would “kill them all before (police) were able to get to the house,” Rue stated in the affidavit.
“She finished the interview by saying that she did not want to go back to the house with her mom.”
Rue reported the information to the DCS hotline, and a DCS worker later went to Alexandria to talk to the children, according to the affidavit.
During follow-up interviews, the children said their mother has started hitting them over their clothes to hide the marks and telling them to say the marks were from falling.
One of the children said her mother told her on multiple occasions she should kill herself, according to the affidavit.
“She said her mom held a knife to her chest and showed her where to stab herself,” Rue stated.
Rue said he spoke with the older sister who said she has never witnessed any abuse, but she receives text messages and phone calls from the kids that McGonigle is being abusive.
McGonigle denied the allegations when questioned by police.
“She thinks that the kids are conspiring against her because she has been keeping them home because she is afraid of the corona virus,” Rue stated in the affidavit.
When Rue asked McGonigle how she punishes the children, she told him she takes their electronics, but she cannot ground them because they just leave out the back door.
“She said that she does not lose her temper, but instead she just goes and lays down and cries,” Rue stated in the affidavit.
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