Contributed to TLB by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap
When police arrested North Carolina mother Marty Peele on charges of child abuse last summer, her friends say they knew there had to be another explanation for 4 month old Micah’s injuries. They say that the picture that was painted by the media was inconsistent with what they know of Marty, and that she couldn’t possibly have done the things that she has been accused of.
Petreana Anderson is one of Marty’s friends who considers herself “a pretty good judge of character.” She told Health Impact News:
I hate that they [the media] painted her as a monster. That woman wouldn’t hurt anybody.
Local media reported that Marty was accused of breaking 12 of Micah’s ribs and 2 shoulder blades, as well as leaving deep bite marks. Jevae Pope echoes the response of many of Marty’s friends when she says that:
There is no way that you can convince anyone who knows Ms. Mary Peele that she would be capable of such a crime. … Her son is her life and she is not capable of committing such a heinous crime.
A number of other friends have spoken up to declare that Marty could not have hurt her baby, and several respected expert medical doctors have reported that Micah’s injuries are not the result of abuse, but of a real medical condition. However, Child Protective Services has ordered her not to have any contact with her baby, or with any other child under age 18, and she is facing a criminal trial for felony child abuse.
There are two completely different, and incompatible, pictures being painted of Marty Peele, so what really happened? What does the evidence say?
From a young age, Marty has always enjoyed being around children. She ran her church’s nursery as a teenager, where Marty was dubbed the “Baby Whisperer,” because she could reportedly calm the little ones down.
As she grew up, she became a nanny, and other families trusted her with their children. She spent her entire life loving and caring for children, and even became a labor coach for friends who were expecting.
It wasn’t just children, either. Marty’s friends say that she has always been quick to give of herself to those in need. She checks on her neighbors who are senior citizens. Kristan Walker has known Marty for 15 years. She reports that:
Marty goes out of her way to help other people – all the time. She STILL does it!
She has worked for many years as a photographer of children and families. She volunteers with charities that help those in need, and opened up a children’s resale business to help provide parents with affordable baby gear, clothing, and toys, “going above and beyond” to help parents in need.
She always dreamed of being a mother to her own children, but a series of miscarriages left Marty wondering if that was ever going to happen. The grief of 8 miscarriages took its toll on her emotions and her marriage, which ended in divorce.
Later, when she and her fiance Derrick Dover found that they were expecting, she didn’t dare hope. But she made it through the first trimester and got past the point at which she had lost her other babies. Because of so many miscarriages, this pregnancy was considered high risk.
It was a stressful, but joyous time. Marty was determined to embrace the pregnancy, the good along with the nausea and discomfort. Her chief complaint was heartburn, for which she consumed Extra Strength Tums antacid tablets on a daily basis. She didn’t really consider Tums a drug, and was completely unaware of research that indicates that the use of antacid tablets like Tums can lead to bone fragility issues.
She stepped up her research, and decided that she would make organic baby food for her baby. She planned to have a completely natural childbirth, and chose not to circumcise or vaccinate her son. She organized and planned every detail for a fabulous nursery for this much-anticipated baby.
Her “miracle baby” was born on March 24, 2015, after a long and difficult induced labor. Micah was full-term, born at 41.2 weeks. During labor, Marty reports that her baby did not descend into the birth canal. After 40 hours of labor, Micah was born via c-section. He weighed 8 lbs 10 ounces.
Micah was her “dream baby.” Marty Peele was over the moon with joy to finally have him. But, all along her mother’s intuition told her that something just was not right.
Early Indicators of Problems
Medical reports show that Micah’s anterior fontanel (soft spot) was completely closed at birth. The bones in his head which are supposed to mold and overlap during the birth process didn’t. In hindsight, Marty wonders if these were indicators of bone problems even then. He also had an elevated bilirubin level, requiring him to spend time under the bili lights during his first week. He developed a large umbilical hernia at around 6 weeks of life.
Although he had a smile that would light up the room, Micah was also reportedly a “fussy baby,” and seemed uncomfortable often. Marty was familiar with babies and knew that some babies are fussier than others, for no apparent reason. She writes:
We practiced attachment parenting in our home (baby wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, non vax, no circ, gentle parenting style) but my handsome boy was unhappy. We had multiple doctors visits and even a couple ER visits where my mama intuition said something is JUST not right.
Car trips were especially difficult. Micah seemed to hate being buckled in to the car seat. Several of Marty’s friends recounted the story of how Marty and her fiance started out on a road trip to visit relatives, but Micah was inconsolable, screaming the entire time. An hour into the trip, they turned around and came back home. Later, Marty discovered that car seat buckles would tend to cause increased pain in babies with the injuries that he would have already had at the time.
He also didn’t like being put into a swing or being put down. He would scream when being dressed and undressed. He preferred swaddling and baby wearing. He was also noted to be “extremely flexible.”
They just didn’t know what was wrong, but Marty and Derrick were concerned. On one occasion, Micah woke up unable to move his arm. She didn’t know if he had slept on it funny, or if there was something else wrong. She called the pediatrician’s office, and took him to the E.R. They were told that it was benign nursemaid’s elbow and were sent home.
The parents would ask about his fussiness at doctor visits, but they were assured that he was fine.
“The Bottom Just Fell Out”
Derrick’s birthday was July 18. On the following day, the family was preparing to celebrate his birthday with friends. When Marty picked up Micah out of the crib, she felt an odd lump on his rib cage. She had noticed something odd before. When she called her pediatrician to describe what she felt, he instructed her to take him to Wake Med Children’s Hospital.
Nothing could have prepared them for the horrible chain of events that followed. Doctors found a dozen fractured ribs and broken bones on his shoulder blades. A nurse noted scratches on his shoulder and charted it as a bite mark.
Only about 2 hours after their arrival at Wake Med, an after-hours social worker, Danielle Doyle came in to where Micah’s parents were waiting for answers. Instead, they were stunned by the social worker’s words:
I’m supposed to come in here and act all concerned for the parents, but I know that you guys abused this baby.
Marty and Derrick were interrogated for almost 8 hours, separately. Then, Marty, who was the primary caretaker, was accused of child abuse, arrested, and her child was seized from her and placed into foster care.
The Child Abuse Specialist assured the court that the only thing that could have caused these injuries was violent abuse, and the judge set her bail at $400,000.
But is abuse the only thing that could have caused his injuries? Or is there another explanation?
“Bite Mark” Wasn’t a Bite Mark
Local media ran with the story that Marty had abused and bit her baby. The original medical reports stated that there was scabbing on Micah’s upper arm “resembling bite marks.” Immediately, Marty and Derrick volunteered to take bite impressions to prove that they did not bite Micah. They were told that there was no place available that performed such testing.
By the 2nd day after Micah’s admission to Wake Med, it was clear that the marks were not from a bite, and the notation about the bite mark was struck through. That bit of information never reached local media, or the court room. The erroneous information was reported more than a week later by local media. Both ABC and FOX news reported:
She also allegedly made a deep bite wound on the boy’s shoulder.
WRAL reported that a warrant said the deep bite was on his left shoulder.
None of the outlets have posted a retraction or correction to their information.
Parents Had No Explanation for the Fractures – AAP Policy Says That Itself Is An Indication of Abuse
In the medical reports, it was noted that the parents had no explanation for Micah’s fractures. Marty freely admits that they didn’t. She had that sense for some time that something wasn’t right, based on her mothers’ intuition, but she didn’t know what was wrong. She isn’t trained in medicine. How could she know if there were a yet-undiagnosed medical condition underlying his fussiness and the fractures? That was the reason that she took him to the doctors, because they are supposed to be the experts who can figure those things out.
Instead, she was blamed.
What she didn’t realize is the very policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics can be a set up for parents of children with undiagnosed medical conditions. According to a 2015 Clinical Report from AAP, The Evaluation of Suspected Child Physical Abuse, the fact that “There is either no explanation or a vague explanation given for a significant injury” is itself a red flag for abuse. Further, the journal report states:
Physical abuse is in the differential diagnosis for children with fractures in the following situations:
- Fracture(s) in nonambulatory infants, especially in those without a clear history of trauma or a known medical condition that predisposes to bone fragility;
- Children with multiple fractures;
- Infants and children with rib fractures;
- Infants and toddlers with midshaft humerus or femur fractures;
- Infants and children with unusual fractures, including those of the scapula, classic metaphyseal lesions (CMLs) of the long bones, vertebrae, and sternum, unless explained by a known history of severe trauma or underlying bone disorder; and
- The history of trauma does not explain the resultant fracture.
At the time that Micah was brought in to Wake Med Children’s Hospital, there was no “known medical condition that predisposes to bone fragility.” There was only the sense that something was wrong. Instead of seeking out possible explanations, the conclusion that the doctors and social workers reached a mere 2 hours after the x-rays was that the child had been abused.
He was found to have multiple fractures, a couple of unusual fractures, and rib fractures. The baby-wearing, breastfeeding mother had no explanation to offer for the stunning revelation.
It was that evening that she learned that there had been an accident a couple of weeks prior. Her father told them about an incident that he had previously thought nothing of. He had been watching Micah while she and Derrick went out to a date-night dinner. He had carried Micah to the kitchen with him to prepare a bottle. He slipped on a rug and fell backwards to the ground, while holding the baby. He never let go of Micah, and gripped him tighter as he fell.
Apparently, the investigators dismissed this as an explanation for Micah’s injuries. Indeed, in a healthy baby, there would likely have been no issue. However, if Micah had an underlying condition predisposing him to any kind of brittle bone condition, he easily could have suffered broken bones from that fall. Fractures have been noted in such babies from such simple things as a diaper change or a nurse holding down a baby for shots or medical procedures.
Medical Experts Say That There ARE Explanations for His Injuries
Marty spent 4 days in jail before family and friends were able to bail her out. Once she got home, she was determined to find out what kinds of explanations there could be. An avid researcher, she tracked down stories that were similar to hers, as well as medical research for conditions that might explain the symptoms that she would have expected the doctors and hospitals Micah had seen to find.
Almost a half dozen expert doctors have now issued reports that there are indeed very plausible explanations for Micah’s injuries, and they strongly assert that he was not abused.
Marty found that there are many things in Micah’s family history that offer explanations, besides his own medical history. His blood work values were all over the charts when tested in July, with more than half a dozen factors that were high and just as many that were lower than normal. He also had bowing of his legs.
She had never heard of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome before, but was surprised to find that she, herself, had many symptoms of the rare connective tissue disorder. She traveled to Boston in September to be evaluated by renowned Vitamin D expert Dr. Michael Hollick. He diagnosed her with EDS/hypermobility syndrome. He found that she has a Beighton score for hypermobility of 9 out of a possible 9, as well as other symptoms, such as:
a history of gastroparesis, orthostatic hypotension, hyperflexibility with subluxation of multiple joints and fractures with minimum trauma, especially of her ankle and doughy-textured skin. She has aches and pains in her neck, thorax and lower back.
An infant because of its small size and limited muscle has a thin chest wall and multiple rib fractures from trauma virtually always have associated chest wall, or internal organ damage….to a greater extent than adults. Rib fractures due to metabolic bone disorders usually do not have associated chest wall injuries or internal organ damage.
The diagnosis of Child Abuse because of “multiple unexplained fractures” is unsupportable.
Errors in Social Worker’s Report to Hospital
A three generation pedigree was obtained and is in the Medical Genetics chart. The family history was specifically screened for history of fractures, blue or grey sclera, hearing loss, and dental problems. The family history was negative. The family history is otherwise negative for mental retardation, birth defects, multiple pregnancy losses, or known genetic disorders. The maternal side of the family is Caucasian. The paternal side of the family is mixed ethnicity.
Friends Are Concerned
Because Marty has been accused of child abuse, doctors aren’t looking for what may actually be wrong with Micah, and that is concerning to Marty and Derrick’s friends, including Laura Antonelli:
The longer this drags out, the longer [Micah] could be suffering. They still haven’t diagnosed him.
There was a doctor’s appointment scheduled in December with a specialist, but that appointment has now been pushed back to January.
Kristan Walker has known Marty for 15 years, and she says that the thought that Marty could hurt her own child is “the craziest thing I’d ever heard in my life.” She says that this makes her scared for every other mother, because:
This can happen to anyone if it can happen to her. This has ‘sucked all the life’ out of Marty.
What Happens Next
Micah was able to move out of foster care into Derrick’s mother’s home. Marty and Derrick signed over permanent custody to Derrick’s mother, in order to keep from having all of their parental rights severed. They are not allowed to see him at all. Even traditional family gatherings have been halted. There is no “Christmas at grandma’s house” with everyone all together.
Marty reports that she still buys clothes and toys for her son; she just can’t see him with them. She bought a giraffe halloween costume for Micah, and, as she always does with new clothes, she took pictures of the clothes – the shell of the person that she most wants to see.
Criminal court has been continued, and no new date has been set. Friends and supporters are hopeful that someone in the system will recognize that they’ve made a mistake, and restore Micah to his family. CPS has stated that there is no explanation for Micah’s injuries, yet 5 expert doctors have agreed that this is not child abuse, that Micah has some type of metabolic bone disorder.
Marty still cries for her baby every day. All she ever wanted was to be a mommy.
I can’t wrap my brain around that I might have to sit for a trial for something that I’m not remotely capable of doing.
How You Can Help
Friends have set up a new Facebook page for people to follow their story – A Miracle for Micah.
Their story takes place in the same county where a little boy named Malakai has been starving in foster care – Wake County, North Carolina.
Supporters are asked to contact Governor Pat McCrory and ask for him to intervene. He may be reached at 919 814 2000919 814 2000, or contacted here.
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