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

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.

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