Story has been updated
A Lincoln County duo were arrested and charged with child abuse on Sept. 15 after a month-long investigation.
According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, detectives began the investigation when they received a report of child abuse involving a male less than 12 years of age.
Investigators learned 23-year-old Hattie Lester brought the child to Mercy Hospital for a reported fall. Upon further examination, doctors discovered bruising and burn marks to the child’s feet that could not be explained away by the child or anyone else.
As the investigation moved on, witnesses came forward to tell detectives Derek Neth, 39, was responsible for burning the victim’s feet with a cigarette and regularly abused the child. It was also revealed Lester waited three days before taking the child to the hospital for his injuries.
Further investigation indicated the duo heavily used narcotics.
Lester turned herself into the Sheriff’s Office for an arrest warrant, and later overdosed in the lobby, where correctional staff revived her with Narcan, according to authorities.
Neth was later arrested, but denied the allegations of abuse.
Lincoln County prosecutors charged Neth with felony child abuse. The Honorable Judge Pat Flynn set bond at $150,000, cash only. A condition of the bond is no contact can be made with the victim.
Neth is currently housed at the Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center.
Lester has been charged with felony child abuse and felony child endangerment. Judge Flynn denied Lester bail because she is deemed as a flight risk. She was remanded to the Lincoln County Jail.
(All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.)