By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
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
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
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