‘I forgot about him’: Elwood couple arrested after toddler dies following bath

Jacob Wootton

ELWOOD, Ind. – Court documents are shedding more light on the neglect of a dependent arrest of a 26-year-old Elwood man last Thursday.

Jacob Wootton was taken into custody Thursday night on the charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, invasion of privacy, resisting law enforcement, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

Police believe Wootton is responsible for his 2-year-old stepson’s death after allegedly admitting to his cousin that he forgot the toddler was in the tub. In addition, the toddler was found with multiple bruises on his back. Wootton claimed he smacked the boy a few times to try to get him to wake up, but later allegedly told his cousin that “I probably broke his ribs.”

Police were originally called to the residence, in the 2700 block of South K Street, on Friday, Oct. 26.

Court documents show that day, the toddler’s mother, Alyson Stephen, had to be at work by 4 p.m. and left the toddler in the care of Wootton. She told police Wootton was in the living room, but he got up to walk back towards the bathroom as she was leaving.

After she left,  Wootton’s cousin and friend arrived at the residence.

One reportedly helped with CPR as the other called 911 after Wootton answered the door with the unresponsive toddler wrapped in a blanket. They told authorities later that Wootton was crying and the toddler was “cold to the touch.” After police arrived, the cousin reportedly told authorities Wootton stated to him, “I forgot about him.”

The Elwood Fire Department transported the 2-year-old with the arriving officer to St. Vincent Hospital in Elwood.

At the emergency room, authorities spoke with Wootton. Police said Wootton told them he thought the toddler “fell in the tub” after allegedly hearing “a thud.” He stated he left the bathroom for a little while to deal with two other children in the residence.

Wootton said the toddler was unresponsive in the tub and immediately began CPR.

After interviewing Wootton at the hospital, police interviewed one of his cousins who arrived at the residence shortly after Stephen left.

Documents state the cousin told authorities when he felt the toddler, he was “like ice cold.” He then told police he instructed Wootton how to give CPR and when police arrived, he reportedly told Wootton to “back off and let them do their job.”

During the interview, the cousin told police he thought it was odd that Wootton allegedly told him, “She’ll never forgive me for for this.”

Police then conducted an interview at the child care center in Elwood where two other stepchildren of Wootton attend. Police said one child told them that, “Jake gives baths, but also whoops us too.” The other child told police he is scared of Wootton and his mother, Stephen.

The day before Wootton’s arrest, Stephen voluntarily came to the Elwood Police Department to give another interview. She reportedly admitted that she has a no-contact order against Wootton and both have battery charges against each other stemming from a violent relationship. According to court documents, Stephen told police right before she left for work, Wootton was agitated trying to find electrical tape.

She went on to say it was in the back of her mind that he was going to “snap again” due to allegedly having a “short fuse.”

The toddler was pronounced dead at the hospital on the morning of Oct. 29.

On Oct. 31, the Marion County Coroner’s Office concluded that the toddler died from blunt force trauma and also had a hemorrhage in an optic nerve.

Last Thursday on Nov. 1, officers located Wootton around the intersection of 21st St. and South Block Street and he allegedly resisted his arrest.

Once at the police station, Wootton admitted around 20 minutes went by before 911 was called. During that time, Wootton told police he smacked the toddler multiple times and bit the toddler in the cheek in an effort to wake him up.

Police charged Wootton with neglect of a dependent resulting in death after the autopsy results and because he allegedly waited 20 minutes to call 911.

He was also charged with resisting law enforcement, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

On Wednesday, police also arrested the mother, Alyson Stephen, 23, on the charge of neglect of a dependent. More details will be released on her arrest at a later date.