An Ohio mother thought that if there was one person she could trust, it was her babysitter, but after finding her son severely bruised after being under the sitter's watch, she doesn't know what to believe anymore.
"I think about it every single day," mom Elizabeth Mezie of Mount Vernon, Ohio, told WSYX. "It just makes it even harder that I probably will never know exactly what happened."
It started in February, when Mezie received a text from her babysitter informing her that her toddler had been injured. The babysitter reportedly wrote that her own son, also a toddler, had pushed Mezie's son Maddox "so hard" into a coffee table.
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"It didn't look like something a 2-year-old could do," Mezie recalled upon seeing her son. "I just think about what he probably went through inside his head, that I wasn't there to protect him."
The babysitter told Mezie she disciplined her own toddler after the alleged push.
Three hours after the first text, the babysitter reportedly sent Mezie more updates, saying that Maddox was bitten on the ear.
"My first thought was just something's not right," Mezie said. "My stomach just dropped when I saw him."
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Once Mezie picked up her son, she took him to a nearby hospital. Doctors at two separate facilities examined him and determined that he might have been abused, considering his bruising and bite marks.
From there, children's services and police investigated. Police stated in a report that the officers thought the babysitter's story checked out as "truthful," and no charges were filed. However, children's services concluded a strong possibility of abuse.
"These are cases that we take very seriously," Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville said. "We try to react to them as quickly as we can."
Mezie told reporters that she felt "devastated," "heartbroken" and "hopeless" as she tries to piece together what really happened.
"The not knowing and hoping it's not abuse, it's just a really difficult situation for parents to be in," said Child Advocacy Centers Director Miriam Mohamed.
Child abuse cases are notoriously difficult for outside parties to learn the full story, since young children can be unable or unwilling to share the details, notes Police One.
However, investigators typically search for telltale signs that can reveal the difference between accidents and abuse. For example, abuse victims typically have injuries on their mouths, lips, faces, neck, ribs, back, thighs, buttocks and genitals, while accidental bumps and scrapes often occur on hands, knees, elbows or parts of the face that stick out, such as cheekbones and brow bones.