Members of the Rogers County Sheriff's Office are having a hard time, understandably, after opening an investigation into a case of child abuse that has been described as “one of the most troubling, difficult they’ve worked.”
Deputies arrested 24-year-old Gustus Andrew Pennington last Thursday after a woman and her three year old child came into the Collinsville Police Department and reported that they had been held captive and her daughter had been abused over a period of six days.
Investigators were told by the mother that her daughter had been physically abused by Pennington despite her requests that he stop hitting the child. The mother claimed that it had started with spanking and escalated to hitting her with “a piece of wood” all over her body.
Pennington was then accused of purchasing a shock collar to use on the girl in an attempt to "re-wire her brain," which she said he used on the girl so much that he drained the battery in the collar.
During the preliminary stages of the investigation, Sheriff Scott Walton stated that the girl had “Easy visible signs of bruising throughout her whole body. The most disturbing part is he [Pennington] put a dog shock collar on this little girl and continually shocked her. His goal was to keep mom from leaving by torturing the child.”
KOKI reports that the child sat completely emotionless as she was being examined, nothing at all like a normal 3-year-old. She is reported to have had clear burn marks on her neck from the prongs of the collar.
Pennington was located after he fled from the residence and was arrested after a traffic stop. Investigators stated that "On his person Pennington was armed with a large bowie style knife, loaded revolver handgun, and a belt with numerous live rounds of ammunition. In Pennington's vehicle it appeared he was trying to flee the area as he had clothes and sleeping gear packed, including his house cat."
Pennington was booked into the Rogers County Jail on charges of kidnapping, assault, child abuse or neglect, and after a search of the residence, additional charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held without bond.
It was during that same search that investigators took possession of an iPad and cell phones belonging to both Pennington and the mother. During searches of those devices, officers found reason to believe that the mother was more involved in the abuse than she had let on and so requested that 24-year-old Jeanette Wilson come in for an interview.
During that interview investigators state "Jeanette began to tell us how Gus had convinced her to let him discipline the child the way he knew how after he heard the child disrespect her mother by using a tone with her. Jeanette stated he began to spake her bare butt on the second day. Jeanette said he started whipping her harder and harder as the days went by. Jeanette stated that he had gone to get a shock collar for her on Feb. 26."
According to investigators, they recovered messages between Wilson and Pennington in which she said she was "trusting him when he said it would shock [the child] and re-wire her brain" and even messages that "spoke about what level to set the shock collar intensity level to."
Wilson is said to have also told investigators that she witnessed much of the abuse to her daughter and had multiple opportunities to leave the residence but chose not to.
Wilson has also been booked into the Rogers County Jail and is facing a charge of child abuse or neglect and a charge of enabling abuse. Her bond has been set at $2 million.