Everett couple arrested after ‘tortured’ 3-month-old girl dies

EVERETT — An Everett couple has been arrested in connection with the death of the woman’s 3-month-old daughter.

The baby, identified in court papers only by the initials M.M.S., appeared to have suffered long-term abuse. She had a severely broken arm. The baby had never received medical attention for the injury, which appeared to be weeks old, according to a police report.

She had other fractures, including broken ribs, plus a black eye and a gash on her chin. She also had pneumonia and meningitis.

The girl’s mother called 911 on Dec. 18, saying the baby apparently had suffered an allergic reaction and became unresponsive. The woman, her boyfriend and three other children were homeless and staying at the Farwest Motel along Evergreen Way.

The baby was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, then flown via medical helicopter to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she died.

Hospital staff told police, “This baby was tortured. There is no way anyone didn’t know what was going on with this baby,” according to the report.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the child’s cause of death.

The girl’s mother, Jerrica Schreib, 19, and her boyfriend, Donald Coons, 42, were arrested Friday morning in north Everett. Both were being held Monday for investigation of first-degree criminal mistreatment of a child, a felony. Bail was set at $500,000 each and maintained after a brief hearing Monday.

The arrest report does not specify who is suspected of causing the injuries.

Coons is not believed to be the baby’s biological father. He is the father of three other girls, ages 11, 13 and 14, who were living in the motel room, police wrote. The family moved into the motel on Dec. 16. The 911 call was made at 5:46 a.m. Dec. 18.

When Everett medics saw the baby, her condition didn’t match the information given to 911, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

“That led them to believe it was suspicious enough to call police,” she said.

Schreib gave investigators varying accounts of how the child had been injured, at first saying nothing unusual had occurred. She later said the baby fell off the bed or that she’d accidentally dropped her. Schreib reportedly told police the gash on the child’s chin was an infected rash and had been seen by a doctor.

Hospital staff told police there was no way the child had been seen by a doctor after her arm was broken. A doctor would have been required to call authorities.

The baby’s broken arm was partially healed. “The rib fractures varied from new to old based on the pattern of healing observed by medical professionals,” officers wrote.

Hospital staff reportedly heard Schreib tell Coons over the phone to come to the hospital but to not talk to detectives or answer any questions. Talking would cause more problems, she reportedly told him.

Everett police on Dec. 18 also alerted Child Protective Services, which has opened an investigation, CPS spokeswoman Norah West said Monday. The agency had no prior contacts with the baby, West said.

The three older girls were placed in state custody.

Coons told police that he had never dropped the baby and they should talk to Schreib about what happened.

His daughters told police the baby’s health had been declining since “the arm incident” a few weeks earlier. The baby cried constantly and screamed when she was touched. The couple reportedly gave her Tylenol and bound her arm with bandages and a brace. The girls told officers they kept asking the adults to take the baby to the doctor.

During the two days at the motel, the baby had trouble breathing, and she quit eating and moving her head. The girls said that they had been taking care of the baby, along with their father.

The baby often was left alone in a car seat outside her parents’ bedroom, the girls told police. She was later moved into another room, with the door kept closed, after her crying kept waking up the adults. The girls were told not to go into that room or pick up the baby.

Police allege that Schreib and Coons recklessly harmed the child by denying her medical care. A judge on Monday ordered both of them not to have any contact with children without a court-approved supervisor.

Detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office also are involved in the case, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. They are investigating child mistreatment allegations involving the pair in the unincorporated areas of the county, Ireton said.

Coons already is awaiting trial on a methamphetamine possession charge, filed in June. Mill Creek police allegedly caught him with some of the drug during a search of his van in November 2014. Prior to his arrest in the child-mistreatment case he’d been free on $5,000 bail.

Coons’ court-appointed attorney, Tom Cox, said his client has had no criminal convictions since 2004. Cox questioned the high bail.

“He’s not a risk to the community,” Cox said. “There’s evidence of a lot of stuff to be gathered yet.”

Schreib’s attorney said she had no criminal history and asked for her release, saying she was scared and wanted to be out of custody so she could restore her reputation.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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