A 1985 study by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, “Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living with Both Parents,” stated, “If their parents find new partners, children are 40 times more likely than those who live with biological parents to be sexually or physically abused.”
According to a 2001 study in Child Maltreatment, “the presence of a non-biological father figure in the home should be considered a significant predicator of a future child maltreatment report.”
A 2002 study in Pediatrics found that the risk of fatal child abuse increased by eight times for kids living with adults who weren’t related to them, “primarily in households including biologically unrelated adult males and boyfriends of the child’s mother.”
In a 2005 study published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics discovered that children who live in homes where unrelated adults spend significant amounts of time “are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents,” according to NBC News.
“It comes down to the fact that they don’t have a relationship established with these kids,” said Eliana Gil, Ph.D., RPT-S, ATR, who is an internationally recognized expert on various forms of therapy and working with traumatized children. “Their primary interest is really the adult partner, and they may find themselves more irritated when there’s a problem with the children.”
On this blog, I’ve covered a number of cases of children who have been abused or killed by someone either dating or married to one of their parents. It’s the reason I have entire categories for Pathetic Paramours and Stomach-Turning Step-Parents.
And yet, whether because of ignorance, naivete, or blind trust, mothers continue to leave their vulnerable children in the care of their boyfriends, too often resulting in grave injury or death to the child.
Such is the case currently unfolding in San Antonio, Texas, where on Sunday, January 26, 28-year-old working mother of five Sareh Lang received the phone call every mother dreads. While she was at work, Sareh’s ex-boyfriend, Logan Harvill, was watching her three-year-old son, Christian. Logan, Sareh said, called her to tell her he had placed a call to 911 because Christian wouldn’t wake up.
Christian was rushed to San Antonio’s University Hospital. On Monday, January 27, he was officially declared brain dead. The following day, life support was disconnected, and Christian Alexander Paz, who was born on October 26, 2016, died in his mother’s arms on January 28, 2020 at the age of three.
29-year-old Logan Wayne Harvill was arrested by San Antonio Police on Monday and charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury, which is a first-degree felony. According to court records, the magistrate also issued a no-contact order directing Logan to stay away from three people, including Sareh. Logan is currently being held in the Bexar County Jail on a bond of $150,000.
Early on Tuesday, San Antonio Police executed a search warrant at Sareh’s apartment on the city’s northwest side in connection with Christian’s death. News media watched crime scene units entering and exiting the apartment, removing small paper bags of evidence
An autopsy was conducted on Wednesday by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, which reportedly told the family on Tuesday that Christian’s “entire body is evidence.” His death was ruled as a homicide, and the cause was listed as blunt force trauma to the head. Because of the ongoing investigation, further details have not been made available.
So far, there is no news about Logan’s charges being upgraded after Christian’s death, but if he’s responsible, they damn well better be.
According to Mary Walker, who is a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Christian’s death is under investigation by Child Protective Investigations. “Our focus is on any children who may be left in that home or may have been placed at risk,” she said, adding that there have been no prior investigations by the department involving Logan, Sareh, or Christian.
In the meantime, Christian’s family mourns the loss of their beautiful little boy. “My world feels so empty without him,” Sareh told news station KENS 5, telling the station that she grew up with Logan and felt she knew and could trust him. She said her heart goes out to Logan’s mother. “I am not the only one who lost a son.”
It’s unthinkable that someone you care about, someone you know, someone you trust, could do something like this to your child, but what sucks most is that the statistics I rattled off earlier bear it out. Dating as a single mother is no picnic, but it’s made infinitely scarier by cases like this, which just prove it’s all but impossible to trust anyone outside the family with your little ones.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the family told the media, “He was a sweet, loving, brilliant, funny baby with big brown eyes and anime hair. Our hearts are shattered. He is so very loved and missed.”
Christian’s obituary says, “He was such a beautiful baby and always curious… Christian loved to be around his family and was very strong-willed, as any youngest child needs to be. He was fascinated with colors, his favorite two being BLUE and RED. He was also intrigued with everyone else’s favorite color and had an impeccable memory for remembering other’s favorite color.
“Christian’s [pastimes] included watching PJ Mask, playing with his Hot Wheels, learning, coloring, dancing and singing, especially the Baby Shark song. He also enjoyed telling jokes and had a knack for it, and he knew it. He would always end his joke with, “I funny Mommy and Daddy!”
“We will miss Christian’s hugs. He loved to hug and would dish out hugs to anyone… once he got to know them a little. We anxiously await the day when we are reunited with him, enjoy those hugs again and hear him say those sweet words, ‘I Love You More Mommy and Daddy.'”
Christian is survived by his parents, Sareh Lang and Samuel Paz; three older brothers and an older sister; and a number of grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Grandmother Jennifer Owens said on Facebook that when she was able to get in touch with her deployed son, Alex, “he puked 3 times and is freaking out… My son wants to come home. He used to rock this baby and he is his little buddy. The baby lived with us for 2 [of] his 3 years.”
Jennifer has, understandably, also expressed some of her grief in anger toward Christian’s alleged murderer.
Sareh’s sister, Katherine, has set up a GoFundMe to assist with funeral and memorial costs. You can view the campaign and donate here.
There is no word yet on when the little guy’s body will be released to his mother, although the family ultimately plans to lay Christian to rest in Bryan, Texas. Information is not currently available regarding whether Logan is represented by an attorney or what his plea will be to the charge.
Rest in peace, Christian.
I will provide updates as I find them. Click here for my future/ongoing coverage of Christian’s case.
Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information, Facebook, GoFundMe, The Daily Beast, Philly Voice, People, KSAT, My San Antonio, News4 San Antonio, KBTX, KENS 5, KTXS