Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Loss of a Grandchild to Abuse


This is such a precious picture of a sweet boy named Owen. It’s a snapshot from a fun day and a happy child. But you’re not seeing the entire picture of his young life. I was asked to sit down and talk with Beth Feely while I was in Colorado. I want to share her family’s ordeal of losing Owen to abuse. Beth comes from a strong background of faith and I believe it is faith that has gotten her family through the last couple of years. They hope others will take the lessons they learned to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Owen Reak

In 2012, Beth offered to pick up her 19-month old grandson Owen and watch him overnight. Her son (Owen’s dad) was in the midst of a divorce. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Amber Reak, was living with baby Owen and recent boyfriend, Justin Keel.

Beth was told Owen had just been to the doctor. He started throwing up earlier that day. Abdominal x-rays were clear, so doctors believed he had a bad case of the flu.

The grandparents watched over him that night as he was still sick. They decided if he was not getting better by daylight, they would take him back in to see doctors. Early the next morning, Owen was found dead in his crib.

Justin Keel

It is a dark lesson at the expense of a child. It was not the flu. Owen had a rupture in his small intestine from blunt force trauma. It was the boyfriend, Justin Keel, who delivered the fatal blow that took 36 hours to kill Owen. Owen’s mom had a hard time believing her boyfriend was to blame. Keel tried to blame it on his dog and fled out of state.


Those around Owen now see the small signs of abuse, they hadn’t recognized then. There were more bruises than normal on Owen. His leg was broken leg a few weeks before his death (while in the care of Keel) that was blamed on a high chair. DCFS was in the process of investigating that injury, but allowed the toddler to remain in the care of his mom. The same person who lied to DCFS about her boyfriend remaining in her home. It seems everyone failed Owen.

For Beth, out of all the pain Owen experienced in his very short life, she finds a small bit of comfort in that final night. She knows at least he went to sleep in her arms feeling loved. And a small bit of Justice; Justin Keel has now been sentenced to the maximum of 36-years in prison. Please keep this story in mind. 

Should you EVER notice:

*Changes in a child’s behavior

*Changes in eating

*Unusual injuries or bruises in strange places/more bruises than usual

*Returning to earlier behaviors such as bedwetting or hard time sleeping

*Changes in a school performance or attendance

*Fear of going home

*Lack of personal hygiene

*Risk taking behaviors, such as using drugs/carrying a weapon

*Inappropriate sexual behaviors

Listen to your instincts. Report any abuse by your state’s child abuse hotline. Here’s is a link to each state’s hotline:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?rs_id=5&rate_chno=11-11172

Or Childhelp can assist you in finding the correct contact 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

Be the change!

Amy Gregorio 
Your Mrs. International

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