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Courts and Crime

Court Records: 3-Year-Old Boy Who Died In Waldo County Arrived At Hospital With Serious Injuries

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Linda Coan O'Kresik
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BDN
Belfast, Maine -- June 25, 2021 -- Jessica Trefethen, 35, enters a courtroom where she made her first appearance before a judge Friday morning at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast. Trefethen, who has also been known by the last names Williams and Johnson, has been charged with the murder of her 3-year-old son, Maddox Williams.

The Stockton Springs woman accused of killing her 3-year-old son made her initial appearance in court today.

Now, the recent deaths of the boy and several other children are prompting the state to carefully examine its child welfare system. And it’s all happening just a few years after the state faced a similar reckoning following the deaths of two other children at the hands of their parents.

The boy from Stockton Springs, 3-year-old Maddox Williams, died over the weekend after he was brought to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. An autopsy later showed he had pretty serious injuries, including bruises and cuts, a fractured spine, internal bleeding in his abdomen and brain, and three missing teeth, according to newly released court records.

On Thursday, police arrested Maddox’s 35-year-old mother for his murder. They identified her as Jessica Williams of Stockton Springs, but one of her attorneys says she goes by a different last name, Trefethen.

Trefethen told police that her son may have been injured after getting kicked by his sister, knocked over by a dog and falling off a trampoline. But a medical examiner determined the injuries were too serious to have been caused by those things, and determined they were caused by multiple blunt force trauma.

During her initial appearance in Waldo County Superior Court on Friday morning, Trefethen didn't enter a plea and she's now being held on $150,000 cash bail, according to Jeffrey Toothaker, an Ellsworth attorney who will be representing her.

There's much more to come in her case, but one eerie aspect is that there was another high profile death of a child in Stockton Springs just three years ago. In that case, the mother and stepfather were convicted of beating 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy to death.

Now, people in Stockton Springs are pretty shaken up about the echoes of that case, according to the Bangor Daily News.

At least four Maine children, all under the age of four , have now died from accidents or serious injuries since the start of June, and three of them were allegedly at the hands of their parents.

In response, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services says it's asking an independent, outside agency to examine the state's child safety policies.

But this also comes after Maine already went through a big evaluation of its child protection programs following the 2018 deaths of Marissa Kennedy and another girl in Wiscasset, Kendall Chick.

In an interview with Maine Public yesterday, Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the state has made several changes over the past few years, including the addition of about 60 caseworkers since 2019. But a report from January still found that the agency needs more staff to handle its caseload.

Lambrew says DHHS is still looking to bring in more workers, and implement a new plan to work with families to reduce the need for children to come into state custody. And the department says that it will publicly release any changes recommended by the outside group.

Murray Carpenter contributed reporting.