Gretta Feil, Lebanon, Boone County, Indiana woman charged with burning young girl’s face & disfigurement with hot water as punishment over child wetting her bed.
The alleged abuse occurred as Gretta Feil, 49, of Boone County cared for her two grandchildren in Lebanon while their parents were home in Alabama, RTV6 reports.
Over the course of three-weeks, police and the Department of Child Services were called to the woman’s Lebanon apartment five times for welfare checks, but were not able to contact Feil.
There were reports of yelling and screaming, loud cursing and suspected drug use inside the apartment.
Finally, on April 22, police and DCS made contact with the grandmother and children. According to a probable cause affidavit, the little girl’s face was covered with burn marks.
The affidavit cited the victim being rushed to hospital after police took her to the child advocacy center in Lebanon.
A nurse practitioner with the hospital’s abuse team told police that the victim suffered extensive burns to her face, scalp and privates within the last two weeks. The child would need surgeries due to the burns and would leave permanent scarring and disfigurement.
The court document details that the nurse practitioner said the accidents were not accidental and the burns to the child’s face could have been caused by hot water, fox59 reports.
During questioning, Feil said the burns occurred after the girl, ‘got into her creams and lotions’. She also says other adults dragged her over the carpet.
The nurse practitioner also told police that the girl was covered with bruises that they consider above and beyond what a normal child at that age would have from everyday activities. She believes that over time, these types of actions would have escalated and potentially ended in death.
While investigating the cause of the injuries, police learned that the victim was visiting Feil in early April and was expected to return home Easter Weekend. However, Feil told the girl’s parents that Indiana was on lockdown due to COVID-19 and the state lines were closed. It was not until later that the parents learned that this was not the case.
Hot water at Gretta Feil’s residence quickly reached 120°F and reached 137°F within 30 seconds:
The Department of Child Services says its investigation indicated that Feil put the girl in the shower after she had a wetting accident or cutting the couch. The detective on the case was concerned that the damage might have been done by hot water and noted while searching Feil’s residence that the water quickly reached 120°F and reached 137°F within 30 seconds.
The American Burn Association (ABA) says it only takes 5 minutes for a third degree burn to occur if water is 120°F, and 15 seconds when water is 133°F.
However, the ABA says young children have thinner skin, resulting in deeper burns than adults for the same temperature and exposure time to a scalding substance.
Feil was being held Tuesday in the Boone County Jail facing charges including:
- 2 counts of aggravated battery
- 2 counts of domestic battery with serious bodily injury to a minor
- 2 counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury
- Domestic battery with bodily injury to a minor
- Neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury
- 3 counts of neglect of a dependent putting the dependent in an endangered situation
Feil is scheduled to return to court in July.