There is something really special about kids and Christmas. So trusting and so innocent. So earnst as they make their Christmas lists and try to guess what Santa will bring them. So totally trusting that they are invincable and that there is a Santa Claus.
But one little girl didn’t ask for what she got for Christmas. She was with her mother and her mother’s 37 year old boyfriend on the Sunday before Christmas. The boyfriend Daniel Heninger allegedly began beating her mother. And according to at least one media report this 6 year old child allegedly tried to stop him. According to reports she was repaid for trying to protect her mother. Allegedly Heninger punched her, he kicked her and he threw her to the floor several times. Per police:
“The suspect picked the child up numerous times and physically threw the child to the floor,” says Sargent Pat Ross of the Springfield Police Department, “causing severe head trauma and numerous fractures.”
She was taken to the hospital in what was first called life threatening injuries. According to reports she had multiple fractures, bruises and cuts.
It seems that Daniel Heninger does have a history. In 1991 he was convicted of drug and weapon offenses and put on probation. But in 1994, he reportedly violated that probation and was incarcerated for 2 years. And in 2005 he was allegedly arrested twice. Once when he whipped the children of a girlfriend and left bruises and another time when he allegedly hit a woman in the face with a bat. However, no charges were ever filed on those arrests. The woman allegedly didn’t cooperate with police and it is unknown why there were no charges in the spanking incident. According to media, Heninger is already on probation for a domestic battery in Sept. 2006. Reportedly he has completed the required anger managment course and was due to attend a hearing in Feb. to pay his fine.
The litte girl spent her Christmas in the hospital, but reports indicate that her condition has been upgraded to stable. I have not seen any reports on the mother’s condition. At the time of the altercation there were two other children in the home ages 3 months and 13 months. They were not harmed. I have not seen any charges filed for the alleged abuse of the mother.
Daniel Heninger has been charged with aggravated battery to a child and attempted murder.
She is 6 years old. She has no say about who her mother dates and probably didn’t know Heningers criminal history. All she knew was that her mother was being hurt. And she wanted it to stop.
Instead of a happy Christmas, she spent the day surrounded by nurses, and strange sounds and strange equipment and in pain. She has already or eventually will have to talk to other strangers and tell them what happened to her and who did it. She will need time to heal from her injuries, and may be delayed in returning to school to tell her friends what she got for Christmas. And that Sunday as well as many times since that day she has been scared and in pain.
This may or may not be the first time she saw her mother being hurt. But this time she tried to stop it. She did not know the danger she was putting herself in, she just wanted to stop her mother being hurt. Children rely on their parents to keep them away from dangerous situations where they can be physically abused or emotionally traumatized. In relationships where there is domestic violence, there is also an increased risk of child abuse. Something every parent in an abusive relationship should keep in mind.
I just hope that this brave little girl got every other wish she had for Christmas.