Eli Johnson lived with his mom Tye N. Shafer Johnson and her boyfriend Eddie E. Valdez. Eli’s mom knew abuse was going on in the home but never did anything to prevent it. After all, if she tried to stop her man he might leave right? If he left who would keep her bed warm or pay the bills?
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on mama, she did after all say that they had “talked” about how “rough” he was and told him she didn’t really like it much.
Before I go into the exact event that killed little Eli on that September day in 2009 I want to mention one of the departments that I’ve found to be involved in this family’s life. Oklahoma Department of Human Services. They came into contact with Tye and her children for the first time on November 6, 2008. 9 months before Eli was tortured and beaten to death, and maybe sexually abused. Those charges were never founded or admitted but how else do you explain pubic hair in a 3-year-olds underwear and on his genitals? I only found that mentioned in one document and it was never spoke of again.
When OKDHS received their first referral the complainant said Eli had multiple bruises on his bottom while in the care of his mother Tye. The person calling said the biological father took Eli to the hospital and the doctor told him to make a police report. The report was filed and pictures were taken.
It took 5 days for OKDHS to reach Tye and the kids because they were delaying contact with the agency. OKDHS interviewed Tye, the children’s father, the paternal grandmother and 3 witnesses and also observed the kids.
Eli had bruises that were nearly gone by this time on his behind, upper back and around his eye. They also stated in their report that the doctor noted seeing “what appears to be finger length projections extending onto the right buttock and another separate small yellow bruise over the right SI area” and a “small superficial laceration over the lateral left eyelid.”
After OKDHS finished their observation of the Johnson children they offered “Confirm-Services” and Tye agreed to accept help.
On December 11, 2008 OKDHS noted in their files that they had not received a referral to provide those services.
On January 7, 2009 there was a note that the caseworker was working with Tye on anger-management for the last 3 weeks and the 8th was the last contact they had with Tye until after Eli was dead.
That note from the 8th stated that they recommended the father not to allow the kids to go back to the mother until she complete preventive services. OKDHS told her that she would have supervised visitation until she completed some of the preventative services, after that she would regain her regular custody schedule. Tye agreed and signed the voluntary services agreement.
On December 11th there was another note in OKDHS files that stated there was communications with the district attorney’s office, the current safety plan needed to be amended to comply with the court order granting visitation between Tye and the kids. The note also said Tye hadn’t started any preventative services to regain normal custody.
The amended saftey plan allowed Eli and Candra to be with their mom during the day if an adult was in their presence, at night they went to their father’s. The kids mother and biological father agreed to the mother’s boyfriend, Eddie or his sister supervising the mother’s visits.
Tye told OKDHS she abused Eli, not Eddie.
Evelyn Johnson, the kids great-granddaughter told reporters that OKDHS gave the kids back to Tye after she took anger-management classes.
The next OKDHS complaint came after Eli was already dead.
Eli was 3-years-old on September 16, 2009 when he was brought into Itegris Southwest Medical Center. Baby Eli was covered in bruises on his arms, legs, upper stomach, face, forehead, and genitals and he had cuts and sores on his lips. Eli was pronounced dead within 20 minutes.
Eddie and Tye both were taken to the police station were Eddie told investigators that he beat Eli after becoming “enraged” at him for pottying in his pants and because Eli would not listen to him. He continuously punched Eli in the stomach with full force.
After punching Eli in the stomach he lost all control and began attacking him all over his body. He then sat him on the toilet and told him he’d better use the bathroom. Eddie then left the bathroom for a little bit leaving Eli to sit there, to let him think about his hideous behavior. 3-year-olds should not be having accidents and Eddie expected Eli to get that through his head.
When Eddie returned he was furious, little Eli was on the bathroom floor “playing”, not sitting on the toilet where he’d commanded him earlier. Eddie saw red and lost control again. In a police report he told an investigator that he “blacked out” and no longer had control over himself. He has no idea how many times he hit 3-year-old Eli Johnson. Eddie says he did not “come to” until he saw Eli’s head in the toilet.
Afterwards, Eddie imposed a time-out on Eli by forcing him to stand on his toes with his hands behind his back but Eli could not do this because he was too weak from his beatings so Eddie put him on a kitchen table and made him do it there. Eddie must have thought he would have more leverage there.
Eli’s choice was to stand on his toes, hands behind his back or fall on his face 4 feet to the ground. Eli fell, numerous times. This infuriated Eddie more, Eli was faking and Eddie wasn’t in the mood for a 3-year-olds games, Eddie picked him up by his arms, held him out and dropped him at least twice but it could have been more.
During Tye’s interview with investigators she says that she heard her man giving her baby boy a “spanking” for having an accident in his pants but she had taken a Lortab (prescription pain pill) and was chillin’ on the couch while her son was, in her words, “screaming and crying more than usual.” She then decided she would go and see what was up and that’s when she saw bumps, lumps and bruises all over Eli, especially his little head. She told Eddie that he was going to far. Tye said she loved Eddie and thought he would change.
They resumed their day as a loving couple. Eddie’s brother Robert Valdez was there the whole time, he chose to go about his routine to. There were other kids in the home to.
Eli began throwing up everywhere and wasn’t being his happy, normal self. This went on for 5 hours, Eli was becoming weaker, couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, he wasn’t Eli anymore but Eddie and Tye both admittedly say they didn’t think to take him to the hospital or call 911. That would have been to much trouble and they couldn’t have that.
Finally, Eli collapses and Eddie and Tye realized they had no choice so they drove him to Integris Southwest Medical Center around 5:40PM. We know what happened next.
Eli’s younger sister Candra (Kandra depending on where you see it) Johnson was 2-years-old at the time. Eddie said on September 15, 2009 Candra was being a terror and not minding him. Eddie has a hard time getting toddlers to mind and controlling his temper. The officers found Candra and she was also covered in bruises, she was alive though, thank God.
Eddie admitted to having an “anger problem” and to causing the murder of Eli and abusing Candra. What a great guy for accepting responsibility. I can see why Tye loves him so much.
Previous to this incident Eddie beat Eli’s feet with a plastic baseball bat so bad that they were swollen and black because he had another potty-training accident. Tye took him to the hospital several days later and left Eddie for a very short period of time but went crawling back to him.
Tye was sentenced to life in prison by a Oklahoma county jury in May after being found guilty of first-degree murder, child neglect and enabling child abuse.
Eli’s maternal grandmother said Eddie had “mental control” over her and she should not be charged with Tye’s murder. “I do think that she needs to do time because she failed to protect him,” Kimberly Shepard explained.
Tye gave birth while in prison to a baby girl, she was placed for adoption and is with her new family.
Candra was placed in protective custody, allegedly with a family member and Tye’s parental rights have been terminated.
The OKDHS’s last statement was;
“The OKDHS overall finding was Confirm-Court Intervention Requested, with a determination of shocking and heinous, which included a recommendation by the OKDHS for termination of the biological mother’s parental rights to the younger sibling.”
Too little, to late.
There were 7 other children removed from the home that same day, they belonged to Eddie and his brother Robert Valdez. Robert Valdez took a plea deal for neglect and was sentenced to 1 year in jail, he had to testify against Eddie and Tye.
Eddie Valdez pleaded guilty in March to first-degree murder and 2 counts of child abuse. He agreed to serve a life term without the possibility of parole.
This link goes to the Oklahoma OSCN case summary site http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/GetCaseInformation.asp?submitted=true&viewtype=caseGeneral&casemasterID=2527374&db=Oklahoma