Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Destinee Ballard, 22, of Safford, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Friday on charges of child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Destinee Ballard, 22, of Safford, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Friday on charges of child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment after allegedly leaving her 4-month-old son for dead underneath a woodpile for approximately 12 hours.
The infant’s grandfather found the boy shortly after 9:30 p.m. after investigating a noise he heard from a woodpile in the backyard. The man said he thought a cat was making the noise but upon closer inspection, he located a baby under the pile of wood wearing nothing but a diaper, which was full of feces, dirt, and debris.
At first, neither grandparent recognized the child and wondered who could have left a baby there. Upon cleaning up the boy, however, they realized it was their own grandchild.
The grandparents confronted the child’s mother, Destinee Ballard, who allegedly told them that she believed her baby was deceased. Upon informing her that the baby was found underneath the woodpile, Ballard allegedly said the infant “must have reincarnated.”
At that point, the grandmother called the police, who were dispatched at about 10:06 p.m. Upon arrival, officers noted the child had several scrapes to his arms, legs, neck, and face – which was also flushed red likely due to sun exposure. An ambulance was dispatched and paramedics examined the boy. Afterward, he was left in the care of his grandparents.
When questioned, Ballard allegedly told an officer that her child had died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The grandmother advised Ballard had been acting odd all day.
Ballard was then arrested and booked into the jail on charges of child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment. A separate, independent investigation by the Department of Child Services case was also opened.