A mother now stands accused of killing the 2-year-old son she reported missing from their home last June, about a week before his battered and decomposed body was discovered inside a city-run trash incinerator plant in Hampton, Virginia.
Julia Tomlin, 35, appeared briefly in court Monday on the charge, reports the Daily Press, but it was unclear if she has entered a formal plea prior to a scheduled Dec. 9 hearing.
The toddler, Noah Tomlin, died from two fractures to his skull that “were not only severe, but horrific,” Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell said in a news conference Thursday.
Those fractures, along with additional injuries that included jaw fractures, hip fractures and bruised ribs — some of which had begun to heal — suggested long-term abuse that could not have been caused accidentally based on the autopsy, said Bell.
“I have been prosecuting for more than 20-plus years, and I’ve seen some very graphic things,” said Bell. “I’ve seen some very horrific crime scenes and have actually gone to an autopsy. And nothing really kind of grabs you like seeing a child, or a toddler, being the victim of a crime.”
During the search for the missing boy, the mother was taken into custody and charged with three counts of child neglect.
The additional charges of murder and disposal of a deceased person were filed after a medical examiner concluded in an autopsy report that Noah died from blunt force trauma and battered child syndrome, said Bell.
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The signs of alleged abuse documented by the medical examiner included “the types of injuries that you would find that would literally stop the growth of bones … due to either some severe disease, such as cancer, or some type of abuse – or even malnutrition,” said Bell.
Julia had reported her son missing on June 24 from her home in Buckroe Beach. The autopsy report released Thursday by Bell suggests that another person may have driven the child’s body to a dumpster after the mother discovered the child was dead, but no additional individuals have been charged.
Julia’s court-appointed attorney, assistant public defender Ryan Asalone, had earlier been named to represent her on the child neglect charges, and on Monday, Judge Robert Wilson V directed the public defender’s office to continue representing her on the latest allegations, reports the Daily Press.
Asalone declined comment when contacted by PEOPLE.
Julia currently is being held at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. No bond information was available, according to jail records.
“Justice looks like Julia Tomlin being held fully accountable for the death of her son, and to me, that’s prison,” said Bell.