Babysitter Had Concerns Over Boy's Safety

Wednesday, April 30th 2008, 5:10 pm
By: News On 6

There are new developments in the beating death of a Claremore toddler. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports it is now know DHS was contacted three times before his death.

It has been uncovered from those who knew Christopher Barnard, that there was a trail of abuse.

"The first day she brought him to my house, he had a black eye," said former babysitter Jessica.

It was one year ago when Jessica began babysitting then 3-year-old Christopher.

"My boys loved playing with him, he was just a great kid," said Jessica.

Christopher died on Monday. Police say his stepfather, Steven Lockler, who was also known as J.R., admitted punching Christopher twice in the stomach.

Jessica said she had several concerns about Christopher's stepfather. Once, for example, when Christopher's mom came to her front door Christopher became excited. Then Lockler appeared from around the corner.

"And he saw J.R. and cowered like a dog would, a scared dog. Just cowered down and started crying," said Jessica.

Then came the day Jessica found what she says is evidence of child abuse.

"Right above his bottom there was a strip of bruises about this thick, across the small of his back. That were just so dominant, they were so dark, and they weren't there the day before," said Jessica.

Jessica says Christopher's mom said he fell on some toys. Jessica didn't believe it and called DHS and Claremore police.

A police report, obtained by The News On 6, shows her call on May 5, 2007 reporting child abuse and bruises on Christopher's body.

Three months later another police report shows more concerns of child abuse. Claremore Police Assistant Chief Stan Brown says his office investigated both complaints but never filed any charges.

"Some of the allegations such as the slight bruising, some of those can be explained away by normal child's play," said Brown.

Both reports were also passed on to DHS and Brown says he knows Christopher was interviewed on at least one occasion.

Christopher's mother would not allow him to go back to Jessica's house after she called DHS and Jessica says she was never contacted by agency after making the initial phone call. She says DHS should have done something to help little Christopher.

"I know they dropped the ball, I know they did," said Jessica. "If they would have taken him then, Christopher would still be alive."  

The News On 6 was able to confirm at least one other occasion when bruises on Christopher's body were reported to DHS, this time in November 2006.

Calls to DHS seeking comment were not returned.

Christopher will be laid to rest on Friday.