By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Viola Shuey said she knew better than to attend the plea hearings of Shain Widdersheim and Zaryl Bush, the two people implicated in the abuse and death of her 14-year-old great-grandson, Teddy Foltz of Struthers.
“I’d have been in jail,” said Shuey, of Youngstown. “I would’ve screamed, ‘Kill him, kill him, kill him,’ [at Bush] and called them both murderers.”
Earlier this week, Widdersheim, Teddy’s mother, pleaded guilty to several counts of child endangering and obstruction of justice, and could receive a 10-year sentence.
For Bush, Widdersheim’s ex-boyfriend, prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 22 years to life for charges of murder, child endangering, intimidation and tampering with evidence.
Widdersheim and Bush will be sentenced next week, but what they’re facing doesn’t represent justice to Shuey, or to other members of Teddy’s family. Prosecutors said the abuse Teddy suffered included being exposed to frostbite, and being made to walk on hot coals.
“He’ll never go for a walk in the park with a girl. He’ll never have his first kiss. He’ll never go to the prom. He’ll never have the chance to get married and be a daddy,” Shuey said of Teddy, who died Jan. 26. “[Bush and Widdersheim] have both done that.”
In Teddy’s memory, and in an attempt to prevent the abuse of other children, Kelly Plummer of Hubbard, Teddy’s godmother, has begun distributing yard signs that read, “Justice for Teddy.”
“I want justice to be served for him. He deserves it,” Plummer said. “No child ever needs to go through any type of abuse.”
Plummer has been selling the signs for only a few months, but more than 50 have already been purchased at $10 each. They now sit in the yards of relatives, friends, neighbors and even people who had never met Teddy, but wanted simply to support his family after his death.
All profits will go into the Teddy Foltz Memorial Fund. Plummer said she’d like to start a scholarship in her godson’s name, as well as donate a portion of the money to organizations that work to prevent child abuse.
Sara Foltz of Hubbard, Teddy’s grandmother, and Lilly Foltz of Hubbard, Teddy’s aunt, said raising awareness of child abuse is essential, especially so children can get help before it’s too late.
No matter how many years behind bars Bush and Widdersheim get, it won’t bring back the boy who they remember as unique and loving, with a penchant for singing “Amazing Grace” off-key, Sara and Lilly said.
They said the best they can hope for now is that Teddy’s 11-year-old twin brothers — or any other child, for that matter — won’t have to endure any more abuse.
What happened to Teddy is a shame, Shuey said, and it’s something that could’ve been avoided.
“I’m hoping that through our fund and our signs and everything, other kids won’t have to go through what he went through,” she said. “If more people know what he went through, maybe more people would be on the lookout for things.”
To purchase a “Justice for Teddy” sign, or to make a donation to the Teddy Foltz Memorial Fund, contact Kelly Plummer at firstname.lastname@example.org.