The murder of a little boy from West Virginia last week bears eerie similarities to the February murder of Alex Hurley in Montana.
Both cases involve boys who, after their custodial fathers passed away, were placed in the care of their paternal grandmothers.
Both boys were allegedly tortured and beaten to death by said grandmothers, as well as other members of the household, including an aunt and uncle.
Both were precious, beautiful children with bright futures and limitless potential.
This is the story of five-year-old Keaton Michael Boggs.
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, three adults brought Keaton to the emergency room at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Keaton was unresponsive and not breathing. The adults in question were Keaton’s paternal grandmother, 48-year-old Michelle Lynn Boggs; her daughter, 29-year-old Chasity Nicole Wodzinski; and Chasity’s husband, 32-year-old Peter James Wodzinski Jr. The three of them explained to medical personnel at the hospital that Keaton’s injuries were accidental, but since the extent of Keaton’s injuries was not consistent with their story, West Virginia state troopers were summoned to investigate.
According to police, Keaton had suffered head trauma resulting in bleeding on the brain, multiple bruises all over his body, and a one-and-a-half inch laceration on his genitals.
Tragically, Keaton succumbed to his injuries on Friday, March 20.
Police believe that Michelle, Chasity, and P.J. “maliciously inflicted substantial physical pain, illness or impairment of physical condition by other than accidental means, thereby causing the death” of the little boy, who had lived with the three adults as well as three other children in their three bedroom, one bathroom home at 9248 Buckhannon Pike in Lost Creek for about nine months.
Clockwise from left: Keaton with the other three children in the home; Michelle Boggs; P.J. and Chasity Wodzinski with one of their children.
So why was Keaton living with his paternal grandmother, aunt, and uncle?
Sadly, his father, Christopher Michael Boggs, died of a drug overdose on June 16, 2019. By all accounts, Chris was a great guy and is greatly missed by everyone who knew him. He was a United States Army veteran who served one tour in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged after he was injured during active duty. At the time of his death, Chris was a firefighter with West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Department Station 211 and made a living working for Pusey Perfection Landscaping & Construction.
Reportedly, Chris suffered from PTSD as a result of his military service, which may be the reason for his apparent drug use; a great many sufferers of PTSD self-medicate in an attempt to ease their symptoms.
When Chris died, temporary custody of Keaton was granted to Michelle Boggs and Chasity and P.J. Wodzinski.
In my opinion, many people on Facebook have been entirely too critical of Keaton’s mom, Jessika Bishop-Holt, for not having custody of him. I have to defend her here; I give her a ton of credit. Jessika, who is open about her prior addiction to drugs and losing custody of her kids, was waiting for her probationary period to end before seeking permanent custody of Keaton. According to her mother, Patty Holt, Jessika has been clean for 14 months, which is a huge feat in and of itself. She was trying to overcome her illness and better herself so she could be the mother Keaton deserved. Jessika only allowed her son to be cared for by his father’s side of the family because she thought they would give him a stable, caring home.
In the last months of Keaton’s life, however, Michelle refused to allow Jessika to see her son. Patty said on Facebook that Michelle once told her Jessika would never regain custody of her son.
Tragically, that turned out to be the case.
Jessika’s family has lost far too many loved ones in the past several years. In 2008, Patty’s sister, Terry, died of cancer. In 2012, Jessika’s sister, Angie, passed away. Jessika’s one-month-old niece, Hazeleigh, gained her wings in 2017. Jessika lost her husband, Chris, in 2019, and now their son, Keaton, has gone to join him. I truly hope Jessika, Patty, and their entire family are able to find strength, resilience, and peace.
Another woman devastated by Keaton’s loss is Joyce Owens, who planned to adopt newborn Keaton and name him Jace Elliot until Jessika decided to keep the baby. After Keaton’s death, Joyce posted a photo of herself holding the baby boy in 2015.
In several photos from Keaton’s recent fifth birthday party, his face is clearly bruised. When questioned about the bruises after she posted the photos, Chasity gave a lame excuse about the family dogs knocking the little boy down the stairs. Reportedly, CPS had been contacted by family members, but they did not act fast enough to save Keaton’s life.
Michelle Boggs, Chasity Wodzinski, and P.J. Wodzinski have each been charged with one count of felony death of a child by parent, guardian or custodian or other person by child abuse.
Michelle is being represented by Clarksburg attorney Dreama Sinkkanen. Harrison County Deputy Chief Defender Perry Jones represents Chasity, and P.J. is represented by Clarksburg attorney Jason Glass. All three are currently incarcerated without bail.
The lead attorney on the prosecution team is Harrison County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Snuffer (for Prosecutor Rachel Romano).
All three defendants have waived their rights to probable cause hearings, a tactic which may have been employed to pave the way for all three attorneys to petition for bail to be set. Jason Glass has said he will seek bail “at some point.” Perry Jones plans to file a motion seeking bail for Chasity on Monday. Dreama Sinkkanen has not decided if she will seek bail for Michelle.
If convicted, each of them could face a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Jessika told me that Keaton “was the youngest of five and his siblings loved him very much.”
Rest in peace, little guy.
Click here for my future/ongoing coverage of Keaton’s case.
Sources: West Virginia Metro News, WV News, Facebook, Jessika Bishop-Holt