Child care advocates react to Hannibal child abuse case - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Child care advocates react to Hannibal child abuse case

Eugene Melton Eugene Melton

Following a severe case of child abuse out of Hannibal, child advocacy officials say they wish witnesses would have spoken up sooner because anyone who reports child abuse can do so anonymously.

A probable cause statement says the mother of a 3-month old baby knew the father, 23 year-old Eugene Melton, bit his baby boy in October and court documents say witnesses had seen Melton previously screaming at the child.

WGEM spoke with neighbors who heard rumblings of previous child abuse involving this suspect but no one came forward to police.

Apartment 45D is where Eugene Melton allegedly abused his 3-month old son Tuesday night, the building is right in front of a playground where other neighborhood kids play.

Neighbors like Brittany Rice say an incident like this makes her think of her daughter.

She say there's no way nearby neighbors wouldn't know this was going on.

"You know you can hear everything through these walls," Rice said. "I don't know why somebody didn't speak up."

Why didn't anyone come forward?

Jeramy Hall who lives in the same complex -but not near the suspect - says it's out of fear because people don't want their identities exposed.

But Hall says that's a misconception. 

"I actually had a case last year that me and her brother reported it," Hall said.

He knows all reports made to DCFS are anonymous and wants to let people know that it is okay to come forward.

Clarice Hetzler is the executive director of the Quincy-based Advocacy Network for Children.

She says there's a reason why people think the suspect knows who reported them. Guilt.

"Sometimes we have people who say I know you told," Hetlzer said. "And that's not true, there's no way for them to know, they're just fishing to see if they can find out."

The two neighbors we spoke with say they're not afraid to speak up and the allegations against Eugene Melton have them on the lookout for cases like this in the future.

"I'd rather have them be angry towards me, but at least I know the little kid is going to be safe," Rice said.

"Me and my brothers were abused and I'm sorry, if you think you're gonna get away with it, you're not," Hall said.

Child advocacy centers and authorities want to remind you, reporting is anonymous, it's as simple as a phone call.

Even if you aren't sure abuse is going on, it's still better to call.

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