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Continued: Eric Dean: The boy they couldn't save

  • Article by: BRANDON STAHL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 1, 2014 - 2:38 PM

Myslicki made her final report to the county.

“If that’s not maltreatment,” Myslicki said, “I don’t know what is.”

The county screened out the report. Myslicki said child protection told her that if she had any further problems with Peltier and Eric, she should contact her day-care licenser.

Myslicki said the bruises, bleeding ears and bite marks started to reappear. Eric continued to tell her his stepmother was hurting him. But she stopped filing reports.

“What good would it have done?” she said.

In October 2012, two months after Myslicki’s last report, Peltier pulled Eric out of the day care. She started caring for him and the five other children in the blended family in their Starbuck home. It was there that Eric would suffer the final abuse.

On Feb. 26, 2013, Peltier slapped Eric across the face, bit him and threw him across a room, she later admitted to two Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agents. Eric screamed and cried, then started to complain his stomach hurt.

Medical examiners would later say a perforation in his small intestine leaked fluid into the space around his organs. Enzymes that digest food were digesting his body.

He vomited throughout the day, continually asking for water, but was unable to hold down fluids or food.

The next day, Peltier spanked him after she said she saw him misbehave, according to the record of her BCA interview. Eric became listless and later that night had trouble breathing. Dean and Peltier put him on their bed. He went into shock and became delirious.

Peltier told the BCA that she went to smoke a cigarette. When she came back to the bedroom, Eric was choking on his own vomit. His father called 911.

Eric was taken to a Glenwood hospital, then airlifted to St. Cloud. He was pronounced dead early the next day.

A few days later, BCA investigators confronted Peltier with photos of the bite marks. Over the course of 2 1/2 hours, she admitted to what child protection had been warned about for years. Sometimes she got so mad at Eric that she’d grab him by the ears or yank him by the arm and throw him. She said she bit Eric so many times it became instinctive for her.

“I feel bad about everything,” Peltier told the investigators. “I feel like I took his whole ... childhood away.”

A jury deliberated for five hours in May 2014 before finding Peltier, 32, guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

When word first spread through Starbuck and Glenwood about Eric’s death, residents at first were told it was from the flu.

Eric’s teachers and day-care providers knew right away what really happened.

Mindy DeGeer broke down in tears at her school when another teacher gave her the news.

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  • A photograph of Eric Dean taken by his special education teacher, Mindy DeGeer, was presented by the prosecution during the trial of Amanda Peltier.

  • Eric Dean's special education teacher, Mindy DeGeer, during an interview in her Glenwood home last month.

  • Amanda Peltier was convicted of murder and sentenced to life.

  • Day-care worker Colleen Myslicki kept a log of Eric’s injuries: “It felt so hopeless.”

  • Eric’s birth mother, Sommer Kemp, wept during an interview last month.

  • A photograph of Eric Dean with his arm broken was an exhibit presented as evidence by the prosecution during the May 2014 trial of Amanda Peltier.

  • Solar powered ornaments glowed at dusk above Eric Dean's grave in the St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery outside Lowry, Minn., last month

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