RIDGWAY (AP) – The aunt and uncle of a 5-year-old Ridgway boy found beaten to death in their squalid apartment have been charged with killing him, while his parents – who left the boy in their care two months before – face charges they contributed to his death.
O’Ryan Murphy had been living with his aunt and uncle in their Ridgway apartment with little to no heat since December, authorities said. The boy was found beaten to death the morning of Feb. 3.
Elk County district attorney Shawn McMahon announced the criminal homicide and other charges against the couple, Scott Murphy, 25, and Kristy Murphy, 35, on Thursday.
The boy’s parents, Daniel Murphy, 26, and Ashlee Druhot, 23, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangerment for leaving the boy with the Murphys and not checking on him, despite knowing the other couple used drugs and had violent tendencies, McMahon said.
None of the defendants had an attorney when they were arrested and jailed. Online court records show they face a preliminary hearing May 12.
Scott and Kristy Murphy are jailed without bond, while the boy’s parents were being held unless they can each post $250,000 bail.
The criminal complaint doesn’t specify how or when the boy was beaten, only that the evidence suggests he had been dead several hours by the time he was found that morning. His body was marked with scratches, bruises and two bite marks. An autopsy determined he died from head trauma.
Investigators aren’t yet sure who inflicted the fatal injuries – only that Scott or Kristy Murphy had to, because they were alone with O’Ryan and his 3-year-old brother when he was injured, McMahon told The Associated Press on Friday. The couple is charged under the concept of accomplice liability, meaning they’re criminally responsible for each other’s actions under the circumstances.
The parents are charged with manslaughter because it was “reckless or grossly negligent” to leave the boy with the Murphys, McMahon said.
The criminal complaints indicate O’Ryan and his then 3-year-old brother were essentially “abandoned” by their parents, McMahon said.
Their aunt and uncle’s home was filthy with animal feces and rotting garbage. Morphine, painkillers, alcohol and other drugs were within easy reach of the children, as were weapons including a knife and a blackjack, the complaint said.
McMahon wouldn’t offer more specifics on the circumstances of the boy’s death, saying he doesn’t want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
Authorities didn’t comment on the custody status of O’Ryan’s younger brother or other siblings who lived elsewhere.