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01-13-04: Dad may face new charge in area death


The death of a 4-year-old St. Marys child on Sunday could spur further charges against the father who is currently in prison for violently shaking the child in 2000.
Blake Jeffries was found dead by his mother, Amanda Jeffries, at their South Pear Street home about 12:30 p.m., according to Auglaize County Coroner Dr. Thomas Freytag. An autopsy was performed Monday in Montgomery County.
Freytag said the child had been surviving the last 31⁄2 years with the help of a feeding tube and other medical assistance after being violently shaken when he was 5 months old by his father, Terry Jeffries.
“His mother apparently had gone to turn off the feeding machine about 9:30 Sunday morning when it was empty, and he was sleeping,” Freytag explained. “At about 12:30 (p.m.) she went back in and found him not breathing.”
Amanda Jeffries summoned 911 from a cell phone and a squad transported the child to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Freytag said the autopsy showed there were no new injuries since the 2000 incident and he does not expect foul play. A “frothy” fluid found in the child’s upper airways and lungs is being examined to pin down the exact cause of death, he said.
“He had seizures. ... I believe the presumption is his death will point back to the incident in 2000. Healthy 4-year-olds don’t just die,” he added.
Freytag said Blake Jeffries, a student in the Auglaize County Preschool program, could crawl but not speak or perform much movement on his own.
St. Marys Police Chief Greg Foxhoven said the boy’s father, Terry Jeffries, now 25, was home alone with his son on Feb. 27, 2000, when he became agitated with the child’s crying.
“He admitted to us that he shook the child,” Foxhoven said.
Terry Jeffries, currently serving a six-year prison term at Lima Correctional Institution for his son’s injuries, called a squad to the family’s Townview Drive home sometime later when the child became limp and had trouble breathing, the 2000 police report said.
Less than two months later, Terry Jeffries was indicted by an Auglaize County grand jury for child endangering and felonious assault. In a plea bargain, he pled guilty to the second-degree felony charge of assault and was sentenced in September 2000. The child endangerment charge was dismissed.
Foxhoven said his department is investigating the child’s death and will turn over the information with final results from the autopsy to the Auglaize County Prosecutor’s Office for review. If prosecutor Ed Pierce feels there is enough evidence to warrant further charges against Terry Jeffries, he will present it to an Auglaize County grand jury, Foxhoven said.
Pierce was out of the office today and could not be reached for comment.
Freytag said Amanda Jeffries used the tragedy of her son to teach others about the dangers of shaking a small child.
“The mom took him into schools, like junior highs, and showed students what can happen to children when they’re shaken, when you lose control with them,” Freytag said. “She’s a brave woman. She knew her son had a short life expectancy and tried to prevent others from going through what happened to her son.”
Cisco Funeral Home, Celina, is handling funeral arrangements and plans to submit a complete obituary for Wednesday’s paper.


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