Getting involved to stop a case of suspected child abuse

Wednesday, June 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A group of people shopping at a Tulsa drug store were so outraged when they saw a woman hitting her child, that they refused to let her leave and kept her there until Tulsa Police arrived.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says officers arrested the woman for child abuse. Jessica Holt had just gotten off work when she ran into a Walgreens to pick up something; she was shocked to see a mother attacking a four-year-old girl. "She grabbed girl by the nape of the neck, by her hair and was pulling her around and cussing her and screaming at her."

Holt and several other people tried to reason with the woman and get her to calm down, but say she refused and was leaving when they called police. One witness says when he tried to intervene, the woman said, mind your own business, I don't care if I get arrested or lose my kids.

One woman and her daughter were so upset; they used their car to block the woman's car so she couldn't leave until police arrived. Police arrested Melanie Trevathan [pictured] for felony child abuse.

They took away her daughter as well as her other four children. The witnesses say she was still belligerent. Jessica Holt: "She cussing the little girl, saying, look what you did, this is all your fault, they're going to take you away from me and I don't even care."

Police interviewed the girl Wednesday and while she didn't have any visible injuries, when something like this happens, it's better to air on the side of caution, even though most people don't like to get involved. Tulsa Police Cpl Darin Filack: "It's pretty unusual. We don't see too many people intervening in this day and age."

Jessica Holt says she disciplines her own children and what she saw went well beyond that and that's why she had to get involved. "You hear about child abuse. If nobody does anything to stop it, it'll never be stopped."

Detectives say the hitting was not captured on the store's surveillance tape. They say the children will stay in protective custody until the child abuse charge is resolved.