By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – After weeks of investigating how two little boys ended up bruised and swollen, and arresting and then releasing the girlfriend of their father, authorities arrested the girlfriend’s mother.
Victoria A. Cheney, 44, of Centralia, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with two counts of second-degree child assault.
Authorities came to believe the injuries occurred on July 22, while the children, ages 2 and 3, were staying with Cheney and her husband at their home on Little Hanaford Road, according to court papers.
Cheney’s daughter, 22-year-old Chandra M. Munsey, was arrested on July 23 and charged in the case, but prosecutors have since dismissed the charges against her after numerous interviews confirmed her alibi, according to the documents.
The boys stayed a few nights at the Cheney’s, and when their dad Casiano Baldovinos got a phone call telling him to come pick them up, he found both with bruises on their faces, the little one’s left eye almost swollen shut, according to court documents. He reported it to the sheriff’s office.
The boys were taken into protective custody and remain in foster care, the sheriff’s office said yesterday.
Charging documents allege Cheney gave varying accounts of what happened or may have happened, blaming her daughter and describing abusive behavior she said she’d witnessed.
Her husband Don Cheney said he saw the injuries when he returned home from work on July 22.
Cheney is charged also with three counts of witness tampering, as she told detectives she wasn’t even home the day the boys were assaulted, she’d gone to visit friends in Bucoda early that morning and came home to discover the injuries. The friends told detectives Cheney arrived around 1 p.m. and she allegedly asked them to tell detectives she’d shown up much earlier, according to the documents.
She also allegedly asked one of them to write a letter saying he’d witnessed Munsey assault the children.
Detectives spoke to the 3-year-old twice, and when he was asked who hurt him and his brother, both times he said “Grandma Vicky,” according to the documents.
Cheney is also charged with malicious prosecution, for attempting to incriminate her daughter.
“Based upon the investigation, it appears the only person who was with the victims during the time they were assaulted was Mrs. Cheney,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead wrote in charging papers.
When she went before a judge yesterday afternoon for a bail hearing, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke argued for lower bail, noting Cheney had a felony case in 2014, but her other history with the law was much older.
While she is currently unemployed, O’Rourke said, it was just two years ago Cheney worked for the county, driving a dump truck and snow plows. She’s a life long Lewis County resident, O’Rourke said.
Judge Richard Brosey set her bail at $100,000, and gave her a court appointed lawyer.
Her arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.
For background, read “Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigating child assault, one arrested” from Tuesday July 28, 2015, here