FULTON COUNTY – A Northville couple threatened an injured child to lie to police investigating how the child got hurt, Fulton County Sheriff’s officials said.
The case stemmed from an investigation into how a 13-year-old girl got severely burned in 2016 in the couple’s custody, then the investigation renewed recently as the girl and another child “separated themselves” from the couple and told of the threats, officials said.
The child’s injuries, burns, left her hospitalized for more than a month, officials said.
Arrested were Eugene and Barbara Erb, ages unavailable, both of South Third Avenue, Northville. They each face two counts of intimidating a witness, a felony.
The investigation began in July 2016 when the girl was brought to the emergency room with second- and third-degree burns from her neck to her heels, officials said. The girl was then hospitalized for more than a month and required surgeries and skin grafts.
Throughout the investigation, investigators never were able to “obtain truthful information as to the cause,” officials said. The injured girl and three other children remained at the residence in the Erb’s care, officials said.
Despite the lack of information on the cause, the Erbs were charged two years later with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, stemming from accusations that, despite the girl’s severe injuries, the couple did not bring her to a doctor for more than a week, officials said.
They pleaded guilty to the charges and both received a fine, officials said.
The investigation then renewed as the injured girl and another child got away from the Erbs and spoke with investigators, officials said.
“The investigation established probable cause to believe that after the victim was burnt, Barbara and Eugene Erb not only told them to lie to police officers, doctors, and social workers, but threatened to physically harm them if they did not,” sheriff’s officials said in a release.
The couple were arraigned and released to return to court later.