Elwood mother arrested after son found inside running washing machine, court docs say

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Heather Oliver

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ELWOOD, Ind. – An Elwood woman was arrested after her son was found inside a running washing machine, according to court documents.

Heather Oliver, 30, is charged with Level 5 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury.

The charge stems from an incident that occurred on August 16, 2019.

According to court documents, a 5-year-old boy arrived at the hospital with his father around 10 a.m. Hospital staff said the boy was slipping in and out of consciousness. He has numerous bruises and scratches on his upper body. He was somewhat dry, but he had wet underwear and dirt on his knees.

Medical staff flew the boy to Riley Hospital for further evaluation.

The child’s father told police Oliver, his girlfriend, called him at work around 9:15 a.m. and told him their son was stuck in the washing machine while it was turned on.

The child’s father said he drove home immediately and found the boy in Oliver’s arms upon his return home.

The man pat his son on the back, and he said the boy puked water. He then rushed his son to the hospital because he thought it would be quicker considering their proximity to the hospital.

Police then spoke with Oliver to better understand the events from that morning.

Oliver said she checked on the boy in his room at 9 a.m. She thought he was under the blankets, so she went to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of milk. While in the kitchen, she heard the washing machine and thought it was odd.

That’s when she said she saw the washing machine filling with water, and her son was trapped inside. She said she unlocked the latch and pulled him out.

Oliver told police she does not know how the washing machine works. She said her boyfriend does the laundry because she has a medical condition that prevents her from lifting heavy items.

Police returned to their house to execute a search warrant. They said they found no water or blood on the floor, and there was no sign of a struggle.

Also, there was no milk in the refrigerator and no glass with milk in it.

Police went in the child’s room. They found blankets in a pile, but nothing was would seem as if a child had been lying underneath them.

Police spoke with a representative for Lucky Goldstar, the manufacturer of the washer. The representative told police the washer will not fill up with water and function while the lid is open.

Police tested the washer at the house and an error message appeared on the screen when they tried to operate the washing machine with the lid open.

They interviewed the boy three days after he was initially hospitalized, but they didn’t talk much about the incident. However, according to court documents, when they asked him if his mom was nice, he said, “Mom is not nice.”

Doctors at Riley told officers the child’s injuries were “highly suspicious for non-accidental trauma.”

Ultimately, Oliver was charged with neglect of a dependent “for knowingly and intentionally placing a dependent in a situation that endangers her son’s life and health which resulted in bodily injury.”

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