Tom Green County Father and Stepmother Accused of Strangling, Beating Child


The father and stepmother of a Tom Green County child are each facing multiple felony charges of child abuse and endangerment following accusations that include strangulation and beating the victim with a wooden board.

Jacob Andrew Ferro, 35, and Janice Annette Crickett (aka Janice Dawson Hesskew), 37, were jailed last week on warrants for injury to a child causing bodily injury and endangering a child by criminal negligence. The arrests follow on the heels of an investigation conducted by Tom Green County Sheriff’s Detective Martha Ibarra that included several forensic interviews during which the child detailed at least three instances of abuse.  

According to complaints Ibarra wrote from the content of forensic interviews, the first instance of abuse allegedly took place on Sept. 12, 2014, when both Crickett and Ferro were striking the child with a wooden paddle on the legs and arms. When the victim attempted to wrest the board from Crickett’s hands, Ferro put the child in a chokehold, impeding breathing for five seconds and only loosening his grip when the child stopped kicking, the complaint states. Ferro then grabbed the child by the hair and tried pulling the child up, reaching for the child’s shirt and yanking the victim to a standing position, the complaint states. Crickett stood idly by and failed to intervene, Ibarra wrote.

A second instance of abuse reported during the interviews allegedly took place on April 10 and again involved strangulation, Ibarra wrote. On that occasion, the complaint states, Ferro again put the victim in a chokehold and Crickett sat and watched, “and only removed the cigarette that fell from [Ferro’s] mouth onto his stomach as [he] sat on the couch…still holding [the victim] in a chokehold,” the complaint states.

The final instance of abuse is alleged to have taken place on June 4, the complaint states, when Ferro beat the child across the back with a modified wooden paddle measuring 3.5 inches wide and 22 inches long. According to the complaints, Crickett encouraged Ferro to assault the child for stealing food and lying. One of the victim’s four siblings corroborated the story, stating that Crickett ordered a “swat” for every lie, Ibarra reported. Ferro’s assault on the child’s lower back caused bruising witnessed by all four siblings, and the child was sent to a room afterward because the child would not stay still, the complaint states.

The exact age and sex of the child was not provided in redacted copies of the complaints, however the age was noted as “14 years of age or younger”.

Jacob Andrew Ferro was arrested on three warrants for injury to a child with bodily injury on July 23 and was booked into the Tom Green County Jail. He was released on the following day after posting a $20,000 bond. Injury to a child causing bodily injury is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Janice Annette Crickett was arrested on two warrants for endangering a child by criminal negligence on July 21 and was released on the following day after posting a $15,000 bond. Endangering a child by criminal negligence is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

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