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Slain Struthers boy repeatedly beaten, subjected to freezing, prosecutors say

Published: Sat, April 13, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

Court filing says Foltz was repeatedly struck, subjected to freezing

By Peter H. Milliken



A shocking story of child abuse and torture is alleged in the bill of particulars filed by Mahoning County assistant prosecutors concerning the January beating death of Teddy A. Foltz, 14, of Struthers, and circumstances surrounding that event.

The bill, filed by Natasha K. Frenchko and Rebecca Doherty, assistant prosecutors, details the charges against Zaryl G. Bush, 43, and his ex-girlfriend, Shain Widdersheim, 32, both of Creed Street, Struthers, who were indicted by the county grand jury March 7.

The document states that the 14-year-old was subjected to abuse such as being repeat- edly punched, having his head slammed against a wall, being forced to stand outside until frostbitten, being made to walk on hot coals, and getting hit with pool sticks and bars of soap.

A pretrial hearing for Bush and Widdersheim will be at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who is scheduled to preside over their jury trial beginning May 20. Both defendants are jailed without bond.

Bush, who faces a possible life prison term, is charged with murdering and feloniously assaulting Foltz on Jan. 21, four counts of child endangering pertaining to Foltz, one count each of endangering Foltz’s 10-year-old twin brothers; two counts of intimidating a witness, related to one of the twins; and tampering with evidence.

Widdersheim is charged with manslaughter and obstructing justice in Foltz’s death, two counts of child endangering pertaining to Foltz, and one count each of child endangering pertaining to the twins. Widdersheim is the mother of all three boys.

The charges in the indictment cover the period from December 2011 to late January 2013.

Widdersheim brought Foltz to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in Boardman on Jan. 21 with head injuries so severe that he immediately was transferred to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, where he died Jan. 26.

Police arrested and charged Bush on Jan. 29 and Widdersheim the following day. Both defendants have pleaded innocent.

Bush is charged with purposely causing Foltz’s death by “punching the child repeatedly and slamming his head against the wall, and defendant continued this conduct while the child bled and lost consciousness.”

In one of the child- endangering counts, Bush is charged with forcing Foltz “to stand outside in the cold for prolonged periods of time, which resulted in the child having frostbite.”

In another, Bush is charged with ordering Foltz’s younger brothers “to beat him with bars of soap repeatedly and causing the child pain, suffering and injuries.”

In another, Bush is accused of torturing Foltz by beating him on his head and various parts of his body and slamming his head into objects. The bill also alleges that Bush “forced the child to run outside for prolonged periods of time in extreme weather conditions; ordered him to take freezing cold showers, then stand nude in front of a fan; hit him with pool sticks; hit him with various items, including potatoes, and forced him to walk on hot coals.”

Bush is charged with kicking one of the younger boys down the stairs.

Bush is charged with intimidating the other 10-year-old by threatening to find and kill him if he told anyone what he witnessed in relation to Foltz’s death and telling him “to lie if questioned about the crime.”

After fatally beating Foltz, Bush used bleach to remove blood from his hands, to remove or conceal Foltz’s blood from the walls after the beating, and to try to remove or destroy blood on the floor, and “removed or concealed the bloody rags from his house,” the bill says. Bush also ordered one of the younger boys to clean the blood from Foltz’s face before taking Foltz to the hospital, the bill says.

Widdersheim is charged with helping Bush cause physical and mental injury to Foltz. She allegedly was complicit with Bush in the numerous beatings of Foltz and in his being forced to walk on hot coals and run outside in extreme weather.

She also allegedly was complicit in Bush’s slamming of one of the younger boy’s heads into a wall, “hitting him with a pool stick and belt, and kicking him down the stairs, resulting in pain and suffering.”

The manslaughter charge alleges she failed to protect Foltz from Bush, knowing that Bush was abusive and beat Foltz, “ultimately ending in the child’s death.”

Evidence the prosecution has shared with the defense includes color photos of Foltz in the hospital and of toys Bush allegedly burned, letters found in Bush’s residence and a video of one of the victims running near an industrial plant along the Mahoning River in Struthers.


1khw729(8 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm seriously thinking about commiting a crime just so I can get into the county jail to give this POS a taste of his own medicine.

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2kensgirl(1060 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

They DO return children to their previous homes after abuse issues - I've seen it. They try and reunite the kids with their POS families because of their whacko progressive ideas. I personally know a child who was recommended to live with a family member after that person had felony charges of drug abuse and child endangerment. These people who hurt this child should have to pay with their own lives. This goes beyond abuse. It is a sign of pure evil. If anything calls for the death penalty this does.

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31970mach1(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This is just horrible. I don't remember reading anything like this for a very long time. Literally gave me a stomach ache reading this.

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4papa1(711 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

I could never be a cop because I don't think I could have stopped myself from shooting this scum rather than arrest him. why waste taxpayer money on a trial and a lifetime in prison. a rope would be much cheaper.

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5Quail(1 comment)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This is a perfect example of what the real issues are in our country. PEOPLE and the fact that the laws, the courts and mostly the MENTAL health system doesn't work. We are so worried about gun legislation, we need to writing new mental legislation and laws. The penalties need to change as well. What ever your crime was, then your penalty should be equal that or more. The family unit needs to be looked at as well. You can't just go and have sex, then have a kid and then expect society to take care of it. It all starts at home, respect, morals, your faith. But its the system and our politicians need to get a grip. They need to get out of their bubble and join the real world.

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6kensgirl(1060 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Just remember people - most of what a cop experiences during his tour of duty never makes print. Most people will never really know what's out there and what cops have to deal with. It's truly sickening. Much of it is child and elder abuse. Sad, sick and depraved. This is why many officers quit or become hardened to it after a while. Bless these men and women who continuously put their lives on the line every day never knowing if they'll return to their families after a shift is over. Thank you for your service.

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7salem1361(5 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

just takes your breath away. Nothing else to say.

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8steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Those poor kids suffered the most terrible kinds of abuse and violence and we're to believe nobody saw anything,nobody heard anything and nobody knew or even suspected anything was wrong ?

I can understand the victims of this gutless coward being afraid to talk or tell anyone what was being done to them but with such severe injuries and the marks those beatings had to leave on Teddy I don't understand how any adult couldn't see or suspect something was terribly wrong.

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9endthismess(464 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

These two pos deserve a lifetime sentence with no chance of parole. With any luck the prison popluation will take matters on and give them both many daily samples of this same barberic treatment.....constantly. Then hell will finish them both off. May no sympathy, evil, self destruction and constant misery follow them both for the rest of their miserable lives.

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10LtMacGowan(714 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

A lot of people won't report abuse because of that idiotic no snitching code.

If i see some one abusing a kid, or some crack head breaking into a car. I'm calling the cops, and I'll testify.

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11uetz(38 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

So sad. Thank you Jesus for taking that poor child out of his misery.

I cannot imagine living a life that he had to live. I feel so ungrateful for not thanking God every day for the life I have been blessed with. This poor child lived in fear every day of going home. Can you imagine being afraid to go home to your mother and 'dad' for fear that they would literally torture you for their own pleasure?? I can't even begin to imagine the emotional pain this poor child suffered knowing his own mother would sit by and let this evil man do these terrible, atrocious things to him!

And the scariest thing of all: Imagine what was done to this child that the authorities haven't found out about. I am sure this child is afraid and embarrassed to reveal all the horrific details of some events and feels ashamed so he keeps them bottled up. I just hope that his younger brothers can forgive and forget, otherwise they will remain imprisoned with these terrible memories and resentments toward this man.

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