By Joe Gorman
Crying and shaking from the time she entered the courtroom, Shain Widdersheim said “guilty” five times through her tears as she admitted to charges she allowed her ex-boyfriend to kill one son while his twin brothers watched.
Her parents, Paul and Sara Foltz, and sister, Lilly Foltz, also shed tears Monday in the courtroom of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court as they watched Widdersheim admit her guilt. They said, despite the family ties, Widdersheim deserves to be punished severely.
“She’s my daughter, and I love her,” Sara Foltz said. “But I know she did wrong.”
Widdersheim, of Creed Street in Struthers, entered guilty pleas to four counts of child endangering and one count of obstruction of justice for the death of her 14-year-old son, Teddy Foltz, in January.
The child-endangering pleas were two for Teddy and one each for the twins.
Prosecutors say her ex-boyfriend, Zaryl Bush, 42, also of Creed Street, beat and tortured Teddy and the twins over a period of at least two years, beatings that led to Teddy’s death.
Assistant Prosecutor Rebecca Doherty recommended a 10-year sentence. Sentencing will not take place until after a pre-sentence investigation.
Bush faces charges of murder and felonious assault for the attack on Teddy on Jan. 21 that led to his death Jan. 26, including six counts of child endangering, two counts of intimidating a witness and tampering with evidence.
Bush is alleged to have punched Teddy, made him stand outside until he was frostbitten, walk on hot coals, and slammed his head into walls several times. He is due in court for a pretrial hearing Wednesday. His trial is set to take place next Monday.
In court Monday, Doherty said the 11-year-old twins are in a safe place, and they had given investigators details of the crime. They were present during the attack that took the life of their older brother, Doherty said.
Doherty said an involuntary-manslaughter charge against Widdersheim was dropped as part of the plea. Doherty said Widdersheim was not present when Teddy was attacked Jan. 21. When Bush called her and told her the boy was unconscious, she returned home and made sure her son got medical attention, Doherty said.
She has cooperated since she was arrested, and Struthers police also were satisfied with her cooperation, Doherty said.
“Everything she said has been corroborated by the physical evidence and the boys,” Doherty said.
Doherty lauded the way Children Services has handled the case, but Widdersheim’s parents said they have not been allowed to see or speak to their grandchildren at CSB. They sent them birthday cards and Easter baskets but have received no return note, they said.
They said Widdersheim stopped all contact with her family after she began seeing Bush.
“It’s horrible,” Sara Foltz said. “I know they [twins] are going through a terrible time.”
Sara Foltz said she hopes Widdersheim’s plea means her grandsons will be spared testifying at trial.
“I’m happy she came to terms that she did something wrong,” Sara Foltz. “But it won’t bring my grandson back.”
She has visited her daughter at the county jail, but Widdersheim will not speak of the case, Sara Foltz said. Sara Foltz said she has filed a motion to try to get custody of the twins.
Lilly Foltz said she has not visited her sister and does not know when she will talk to her. She said she worries more about the twins.
“All I want is justice for my nephews,” Lilly Foltz said. “They deserve it.”