LAPORTE, Ind. — Before his death, 4-year-old Judah Morgan was repeatedly bound with duct tape, confined in a dark basement for days at a time, beaten and starved, according to court records resulting from police investigations.
Court documents revealed the alleged abuse the boy had endured before his death on Monday in the 3100 East block of County Road 875 South.
Morgan was arrested Monday and faces several felony charges, including murder, cruelty to an animal and five counts of neglect of a dependent, according to the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department.
As police were on their way at 2:45 a.m. Monday to the 3100 block of East County Road 875 South for a report of an unconscious child, the child’s mother called 911 stating that Morgan might flee as he had lost his temper and hurt the child and did not know what to do, LaPorte Circuit Court records state. She also said there were other children in the home.
When police arrived, they tried to rouse anyone inside the home but no one answered. Because they were afraid for the safety of the other children potentially in the home, they checked the door and found it was not locked.
Upon entering inside, the officers found a naked 4-year-old boy covered in a blanket, court reports said. He had bruises all over his body, red marks near his face and head and he was cold to the touch, police reported.
Three other children were found inside the house and police had them escorted to an ambulance. Police said the exterior of the house was riddled with garbage and the inside had a pungent smell of rotting food and urine. As they searched the interior, there was clothing, garbage, rotted food and animal feces strewn around the residence, the court documents said.
The fridge also had a lock on it, which prevented anyone from opening it.
Officers found two cats and a dog that appeared extremely malnourished locked inside a crate that was covered in matted hair, feces and urine, the court documents alleged.
When police descended down into the basement, it was cold and dark with no working lights. Several pieces of duct tape were strewn about the basement, some of it was stuck to the floor and wall, and a piece appeared to be taped in the shape of a circle.
A large blanket that smelled of urine was found with several pieces of tape stuck to it and a small pair of toddler-sized sweatpants were found nearby soaked in urine. A small infant-style toilet was also found nearby that had urine and feces in it.
Police learned Morgan had fled the residence and alerted other agencies of his description and vehicle.
Officers interviewed the mother, who admitted she knew what Morgan was doing to the 4-year-old child, but said she was afraid of him, court reports said.
She told police the 4-year-old was being sent down in the basement as punishment for not being potty trained and the lights had been shut off on purpose as a scare tactic, and food was also withheld from the boy, according to the documents.
The mother said Morgan would allegedly punish the child by binding him in duct tape and physically abusing him. She said there were times the child would be kept in the basement for days at a time and typically made him go into the basement naked, court records stated.
The child was typically sent to the basement three times a week and if the child refused to go down the stairs, Morgan would allegedly grab him by the neck and forcibly carry him down.
The mother said the last she saw Judah was Saturday in the basement when she left the house to go to the hospital to give birth. Court records show that during the interview with police, the mother denied abusing Judah herself but stated “she could’ve put a stop to this but didn’t.”
However, the children told police that they saw the mother and father force Judah into the basement, court documents alleged. They described hearing yelling and hitting noises coming from the basement and said Morgan would tape Judah’s arms behind his back.
One of the children told police they had a birthday in which the family had cake, and when asked where Judah was during this time, they replied, “he was in the basement where he normally is,” according to the court reports.
Around 2 a.m. Sunday, Morgan’s brother told police that the mother messaged him stating that Morgan needed his help because of a serious emergency. Police noted this was 22 minutes before the first 911 call was made.
The autopsy on Judah showed that he died from blunt force head trauma that caused a massive subdural hematoma.
Morgan remains at the LaPorte County Jail without bond. Police said no further information would be released at this time.
Anonymous tips related to the case should be directed to Fugitive Apprehension Street Team Sgt. Brett Swanson by calling or texting 219-363-9623, police said.
U.S. regulators signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.