More on the death of Austin Anderson and the charges against his mother, Kimberly Lightwine, at 5 & 6. pic.twitter.com/IvtjpJAC7M
— KY3 News (@kytv) September 6, 2016
When Officer Billy Simpson found Kimberly Lightwine on Aug. 29, she was lying facedown in the grass three feet from her Ford Expedition, which had come to rest in the middle of a Missouri field.
The temperature rose to 91 that day.
She was naked in the summer heat, save for a pair of panties.
Sprawled on the grass about 10 feet away from her was a 19-year-old wearing a diaper, which appeared to be full.
The boy was dead.
He was also her son.
Lightwine asked for water, then began yelling that “she and God brought her baby into this world and that she had to help God take him out,” according to a probable cause statement made available by the Bolivar Herald-Free Press.
After Simpson retrieved water for Lightwine and asked whether she was feeling better, she replied in a more succinct manner.
“Billy, I killed my son,” she said, according to the police records. “Billy, I killed my son.”
The boy was autistic and blind in both eyes.
On Saturday, Lightwine was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree elder abuse. The latter charge stems from the fact that her son was disabled.
According to police reports, Austin Anderson died of dehydration and lack of his medication after being left in a field in Polk County, Mo., for an unspecified amount of time.
Anderson was autistic and blind in both eyes. His unnamed father told police that Anderson required hydrocortisone medication. Without it, he would fall into a coma and die.
An autopsy revealed that he had one collapsed and one shriveled adrenal gland — these glands produce and release the hormones cortisol, aldotestrone and adrenaline, which help manage blood sugar levels and the balance of salt and water in the body, according to the National Institutes of Health.
His body wouldn’t have produced these, according to coroner Keith Norton, which is why hydrocortisone was required to keep Anderson alive.
Anderson also suffered from a lack of muscle growth in one of his knees, which caused it to “pop out of place” if it bent the wrong way. It limited how much he could walk.
In addition, Anderson wasn’t able to feed himself, change his own diapers, give himself medication or hold a complete conversation. He had the cognitive abilities of a fourth- or fifth-grader, according to his father.
He was completely dependent on his parents.
Lightwine told police that she had taken meth before driving herself and Anderson into the field. Her memory of the events were spotty, but she remembered being overcome with a burning rage.
“I was mad as hell,” she said. “I don’t remember why I was, just mad as … hell.”
Her recollections appear in somewhat nonsensical flashes in the police report.
At one point, she told police she climbed on her car and began screaming obscenities. At another, she said she “threw Austin through barbed wire and cut him up really bad, trying to get him to safety.”
She told police she wasn’t sure when she drove into the field, or how long the two were there before they were discovered.
But she did remember stopping and telling her son, to whom she referred to as a “Mommy’s boy,” “‘Austin, get out of the car and go reach out for help. Put your hands in front of you for help, and God is going to take care of you.'”
The two were in the grass for some time, several days by her estimation.
“I don’t know, at least several days,” she told police. “I try to block it out.”
The manager of the Country Inn Motel — where the two had been staying and where police found a partially full bottle of hydrocortisone and evidence of meth — told police she was last seen Aug. 27, two days before they were found in the field.
The summer sun beat unrelentingly down on the field, but the two had no water, no food, no medication.
All Anderson wanted was to curl into his mother’s arms and go home. But she wouldn’t let him.
“My baby kept getting hot and kept coming back and wanting his mommy, but I knew it wasn’t good,” Lightwine said.
Each time, she would shove the blind, handicapped teenager away from her and say, “No, you don’t want to love me. Please let God take you.”
He protested, begging to go back home.
“He kept saying, ‘I want to go home, Mommy. I want to go home,'” she told police.
But she wouldn’t relent. She just waited.
One friend of Lightwine, Brianna Countryman, said her behavior was out of character.
“I honestly don’t know what to believe. There’s so many questionable things,” Countryman, who said Lightwine was in recovery from drug addiction, told KSPR. “She was a very wonderful mother. She was great to Austin, and Austin loved her very, very much.”
The boy’s father told police Lightwine had a bad temper, particularly around Anderson. He recalled an incident in which the boy accidentally kicked Lightwine in the head as she was laying him down onto a bed, since he couldn’t do it himself.
She allegedly grabbed Anderson’s arms, pulling him toward her, and began screaming and cursing in his face.
Lightwine claimed not to know why she killed her son.
“I don’t know why I did. I just got really high and depressed, and I killed my kid,” she said, according to police reports. “I just kept thinking for God to take my baby away from the pain and misery because that’s all I have.”
When police asked why she wanted this to happen, she said because she was a “bad, destructive mother.”
“This is a crazy f—ed up world that I chose to live, and I killed my kid,” she said again. “It’s my fault, and you should charge me with murder right now for my son’s death, and I’m not joking. You should charge me. You should charge me for murder.”
Lightwine added, “That kid would not be dead right now if it wasn’t for me.”
Although it’s unclear how long the two were in the field, the autopsy showed that Anderson’s brain was swollen in a manner consistent with dehydration. In addition, Norton stated he could have gone into shock after not receiving his hydrocortisone.
Lightwine is in a hospital in Springfield, Mo., and her bond is set at $250,000. She faces 10 to 30 years for murder and up to 20 years for elder abuse. It is unclear whether she has a lawyer or whether she has entered a plea.
“As soon as the hospital releases her, we’ll bring her to the Polk County Jail unless she posts bond in Greene County,” Sheriff Kay Williams told the Bolivar Herald-Free Press. “Nothing new has surfaced in the investigation at this time.”
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