Updated at 11:37 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Prosecutors told a judge this afternoon they believe a Centralia toddler was raped and tortured before she died.
James M. Reeder, 25, appeared before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon. He is the mother’s live-in boyfriend.
Reeder was not charged, but was ordered held on probable cause for murder, child rape and assault.
Koralynn Fister, 2, was pronounced dead at Providence Centralia Hospital yesterday after Reeder carried her to a house across the street and said he found her face down in the bathtub after he stepped out to get a towel. He was arrested last night.
Defense attorney Bob Schroeter said his client absolutely and positively denies the allegations and has no history of any felony.
The judge ordered the Centralia resident held on $5 million bail.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer requested a 72-hour hold on Reeder to allow more time for investigation and a final charging decision.
The filed declaration of probable cause describes significant bruising, cuts, abrasions and other wounds found on the child’s body, some in more advanced stages of healing than others.
Among the injuries noted were palm-sized pieces of skin missing from her buttocks, caused according to forensic evaluation, by traumatic injuries inflicted upon the child.
The declaration also mentions missing skin on the top and bottom of a toe, but offers no specific explanation for how any wounds were inflicted.
The pathologist’s examination found four distinct areas of head trauma, according to the declaration. Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said earlier today Koralynn died from that and drowning.
Prosecutor Meyer indicated in his filing he believed probable cause existed for at least two counts of rape and assault.
Meyer’s declaration says none of the injuries were noted in a well-child exam conducted in early April and that Reeder has been living with the mother and her two daughters for about 10 weeks.
The prosecutor wrote that Reeder persuaded the mother about a month ago to divide up parenting duties and would insist when the mother left, she take the oldest daughter with her, leaving him time alone with the toddler.
A passage in the declaration includes Reeder telling police the bath began shortly after the mother and older child left the residence at about 12:30 p.m., and neighbors reporting it was around 3:15 p.m. when Reeder was beating on their door, holding the girl and yelling for help.
The fire department was called at 3:09 p.m.
The neighbors said Reeder did CPR on their porch until aid arrived. A witness indicated the child was cold to the touch, according to the declaration.
Centralia Police Department Officer Gary Byrnes noticed the smell of burnt marijuana inside the house, the declaration states.
When Prosecutor Meyer asked for high bail, he said Reeder was a danger to others, even the mother.
“I won’t go into graphic detail, but suffice it to say, that in my career this is the worst case of child abuse and neglect that I have seen,” Meyer said.
Defense attorney Schroeter asked for reasonable bail, pointed out to the judge a row of Reeder’s family members sitting in the back of the courtroom.
“Nobody is more distraught about this situation than Mr. Reeder,” Schroeter said.
“All indications are one person took positive action on behalf of this child,” he said. “And that is Mr. Reeder.”
Judge Richard Brosey granted prosecutor’s request to return Reeder to the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon.
Police today continued searching the house off of West Oakview Avenue.
The 4-year-old half sister has been taken into temporary protective custody.
The state Department of Social and Health Services Children’s Administration issued a statement saying they have no record of history involving the child, nor any previous allegations of abuse or neglect against the mother, Becky Heupel or her boyfriend.
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