Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prosecutor: Lock up pair of child abuse suspects

Friday, April 10th, 2009

They were freed on bail in last year

Prosecutor Jonathan Mosher told a Superior Court judge Thursday a couple released on bail last year in a felony child abuse case here belong behind bars until trial because one of them may have tried to kill an alleged child victim, a grandson.

No trial date has been set.

Mosher said Becky and Larry Tortellet, ex-spouses who live together, fled to other states three times after they were the subject of child abuse investigations in the 1980s involving her son from a previous marriage.

Pima County sheriff’s investigators said she admitted using plastic “zip” ties to restrain the son.

Mosher said Thursday that Becky Tortellet, 50, is under investigation in another state for an apartment fire he said was “an attempted murder” of her grandson, now 9.

The grandson is one of the two suspected victims in the 2008 Tucson child abuse and neglect case.

Becky Tortellet blamed a 2005 fire in her Oklahoma apartment on the 9-year-old, who was locked in a closet there just as he was in Tucson, court records stated.

A firefighter who rescued the boy said the blaze was outside the closet and the boy was screaming for help.

Mosher called the incident “an attempted murder of (the boy) in the closet.”

The Tortellets were living in Marana when her 8- and 9-year-old grandsons were removed from the couple’s home last fall by state Child Protective Services.

Sheriff’s detectives said the 9-year-old was kept in diapers in a locked closet smeared with feces and stinking of urine.

The Tortellets’ attorneys, Eric Larsen and Samuel Washington, a county public defender, said their clients intend to remain in Pima County to face charges in the current felony child abuse case.

Larry Tortellet told investigators he thought the boy was autistic and didn’t get involved in his care. He was criminally charged because he allegedly failed to try to get help for the child.

Becky Tortellet told investigators the older boy was “a danger to himself and others,” that he would get into medication and tools, according to court documents.

The hearing before Judge Howard Hantman will resume May 4.

The boys remain in state custody, living with a foster family.

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