A 7-year-old boy who weighed 34 pounds when he died of starvation was locked inside a closet for days at a time without food, water or access to a toilet, according to court documents.
Chandler Grafner died May 6 after going into cardiac arrest. The coroner said he died from starvation and dehydration, and had more than two dozen cuts and bruises on his body.
A revised police statement of probable cause, released Wednesday, quotes the boy's younger half-brother as saying Chandler was regularly put inside the closet when he'd been "bad," and was left there for days and nights.
The court document said the 5-year-old told detectives that Chandler was not allowed out to use the toilet, and sometimes defecated in the closet, getting feces on himself and the walls and angering his guardians.
The brother said that his father and his father's girlfriend would stuff Chandler in the closet for days, and would only take him out to give him a "mean shower" before putting him back in the closet.
The brother said that Jon Phillips and Sarah Berry had stopped feeding them lunch weeks ago, and that the only food he had was Cap'n Crunch cereal in the morning and dinner at night.
The brother said Chandler didn't get any food but that if Chandler complained enough, the adults would give him oatmeal, but that he would have to eat it in the closet.
The brother said that Chandler asked him to get him some food several times, but each time, he refused because he was afraid he would be punished.
The brother said Chandler was placed in the closet May 4 for taking food from the kitchen, and was left there until May 6 -- the day he died.
Jon Phillips, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, as is Phillips' girlfriend, 22-year-old Sarah Berry. They are now also charged with tampering with evidence.
The statement of probable cause, written by Denver police Detective David Neil, said Phillips took Chandler out of the closet and changed the boy's clothes before calling 911. The document said Berry called 911, told a dispatcher that Chandler had flu-like symptoms for five days and had been losing weight, foaming at the mouth, and his lips were turning blue.
A doctor at Swedish Medical Center took pictures of Chandler after he was pronounced dead and those photos show numerous unexplained open sores on his back, hips and neck, according to the court document.
The brother also told police that before they called 911, he helped his father dump a litter box and a curtain that had been inside the closet where Chandler spent the last hours of his life.
Police believe the litter box is where Chandler was forced to go to the bathroom.
When questioned by police, Berry said that Chandler liked to "hide" in the closet. She said that Chandler had been sick and had vomited in the litter box. She said that she is concerned that the cause of death may be "related to the litter box in the closet," according to court documents.
Neither Berry nor Phillips are biologically related to Chandler.
Chandler and his younger brother were removed from their mother's custody and temporarily placed in their maternal grandmother's care. Jefferson County Social Services then removed the boys from their grandmother's care and gave custody of both boys to Phillips, who is the younger brother's biological father.
The brother has now been placed in foster care.
A Denver police officer had investigated a complaint of child abuse and visited the family on Jan. 17. The officer took photos of Chandler, who did not appear to be suffering any signs of malnutrition, the court document said. Chandler had a bruise on his right ear and a cut to his eye. Chandler told the officer the cuts happened when he fell in the shower, according to the court documents.
Officials at Holm Elementary School made a hotline call earlier that day to report suspected abuse to the Denver Department of Human Services, 7NEWS reported.
According to the report, Chandler told his kindergarten teacher, "Dad kept slapping my ear in the shower. He smacked me in the neck and kept putting me in the water."
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