Community rallies around boy

  • By Diana Hefley and Sharon Salyer / Herald Writers
  • Thursday, March 15, 2007 9:00pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

EVERETT – Support continues to pour in for a 4-year-old Everett boy who was found severely malnourished last week.

Anne Backstrom of Everett wanted to know how to become a foster parent and volunteered to care for Shayne Abegg after hearing about the boy’s plight.

Bridgette Harris of Lynnwood gathered donations for the boy from her co-workers at Boeing.

“I just want to do anything to let him know I care,” said Harris, who planned Thursday to drop off money she’d collected at a local bank.

Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies removed Shayne from his father’s Everett apartment when they found the boy bruised and unable to stand. He weighed only 22 pounds.

His father, Danny Jay Abegg, 27, has been charged with criminal mistreatment. He allegedly told police he withheld food from his son to punish him, according to police.

Shayne on Thursday remained at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, where he is gaining weight, child welfare officials said.

It is too early to say when he will be released or where he’ll go.

A judge on Wednesday awarded temporary custody of the boy to the state, said Randy Hart, a regional administrator for the state Department of Social and Health Services.

It is likely Shayne will go to a foster home after he is released from the hospital. Some relatives, however, also have expressed interest in taking custody of the boy, Hart said.

Ultimately, it will be up to a judge to decide who can provide the best home for Shayne.

State officials have promised a thorough investigation of how Child Protective Services investigated allegations of abuse involving the boy.

The case also will be reviewed by the state Office of the Family &Children’s Ombudsman. The agency reports directly to Gov. Chris Gregoire and is independent of DSHS.

State social workers received at least three complaints of child abuse involving Shayne during the year he has lived with his father. The last came March 7 when someone called CPS workers to report that the boy appeared very thin.

Word of Shayne’s condition and his father’s arrest triggered strong reactions among people. Many wanted to know how they could help the boy.

A decision to set up a fund, announced Thursday, came after a public outpouring of concern for the youngster. Deaconess Children’s Services, an Everett-based nonprofit, established the special fund for Shayne. Donations can be made to any Frontier Bank.

It’s too early to know exactly how the money might be spent, said Charlie Langdon, Deaconess’ executive director.

The boy’s care is being overseen by a state caseworker.

“If they make a request and we’ve got the funds, we’ll make that money available to purchase what the child needs,” Langdon said.

Public donations won’t be used for basic needs, which are paid for by the state, he said.

“That money permanently is dedicated to that child,” Langdon said.

The organization stepped up once before, about 15 years ago, to establish a special fund for one youth. The teen’s two parents were killed in a car accident.

In that case, the money was used for the teen’s education, he said, after extended family members took custody of the child.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

Fund set up

Deaconess Children’s Services, an Everett-based nonprofit, has set up a special fund for donations to help Shayne Abegg.

Donations can be made to Deaconess Children’s Services, earmarked for The Shayne Fund. They can be sent to P.O. Box 2629 Everett, WA 98213-0629.

For more information, call 425-259-0146.

Donations also can be made to the Deaconess Children’s Services Shayne Fund at any Frontier Bank branch.

Donations of toys, books or clothes for Shayne also can be dropped off at or mailed to the local state Department of Social and Health Services in Everett. The office is at 840 Broadway, Building B, Suite 540, Everett, WA 98201. Address mailed items to Sheryl Acord.

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