By Joe Gorman
One of Teddy Foltz’s brothers tried to clean blood from Teddy’s nose and his mouth as he lay on the floor from the beating that led to his death, and the other was forced to clean up that blood and try to fake a crime scene.
The brothers, now 11, also wanted Judge R. Scott Krichbaum to know Friday — as he sentenced Zaryl Bush, the man who abused them and murdered their brother — that they tried to help, said Patty Amendolea, a caseworker from Mahoning County Children’s Services Board who spoke for the twins.
“The boys asked me to tell you they did all they could to save their brother’s life and they want Zaryl to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Amendolea told Judge Krichbaum.
Bush, 42, of Creed Street, Struthers, was sentenced to 33 years to life in prison for the charges of murder, two counts of intimidating a witness, two counts of child endangering and a count of tampering with evidence.
Police said Bush abused all three boys, the sons of his ex-girlfriend, constantly for more than a year; and beat Teddy on Jan. 21, leading to his death Jan. 26.
Since then, the boys have been in the custody of CSB.
Their mother, Shain Widdersheim, will be sentenced in August on charges she allowed the abuse to happen.
Visibly shaken and at times holding back tears, Amendolea said one of the boys watched as his brother endured the beating that led to his death. Another brother was forced to help Bush clean up the blood and help him to fake a crime scene in Widdersheim’s home.
The brother who witnessed the beating tried to stop Bush from beating Teddy but could not, Amendolea said.
“He tried to come to his brother’s aid, and Zaryl kept pushing him away,” Amendolea said. “He wanted to call for help, but he [Bush] wouldn’t let him. His mother wanted to help him. Zaryl wouldn’t allow it.”
Bush hovered over Widdersheim at the hospital so she could not tell medical workers what really happened to her son, Amendolea said.
All three boys were under constant abuse, and Bush kept them from leaving or telling anyone, she said.
“They lived in a household of fear from Zaryl Bush,” Amendolea said. “It’s disgusting that evil like this lives in our community.”
“He showed them a gun and threatened to kill them [if they left],” Amendolea continued. “He took all their self-esteem. He took everything from them.”
The boys love and miss their older brother, and whenever they see or hear a reminder of Teddy, they stop what they’re doing and talk about him, Amendolea said.
“They miss their brother greatly. They loved Teddy,” she said. “They loved their older brother. They wanted to be like him.”
Once the two were away from the grip of Bush, they gave investigators statements as to what happened — and that helped to build their case, Amendolea said.
“And they talked and they talked and they talked and they talked and they let everything out,” Amendolea said. “It was terrible.”
Teddy’s grandfather — Paul Foltz, Widdersheim’s father — told Judge Krichbaum he hopes Bush suffers the same sleepless nights and hopelessness he does.
“I don’t know why this evil was allowed to touch my family,” Paul Foltz said.
Judge Krichbaum told Paul Foltz he could not understand how anyone could not have known what was going on.
“In this whole thing, I had a lot of trouble with is, where was everyone when all this was going on?” Judge Krichbaum said.
Paul Foltz said he had no idea of the extent of the abuse.
Outside of court, his daughter Lilly Foltz said tearfully she called CSB several times, but each time she was rebuffed.
“We called, multiple times we did,” she said, sobbing. “They wouldn’t do anything. They told us we were lying.”
Dave Arnold, interim executive director of CSB, said he could not comment on what contacts may have been made. But he did say “any referral we get, we respond” to.
Paul Foltz said he tried to visit his daughter, but each time his daughter made up an excuse of why he could not come over.
Shawn Tedesco, Teddy’s father, also was present for the sentencing. He said outside of court he thought Bush should be put to death for the murder of his son but he was happy with the sentence.
“I feel like justice was served here,” he said.
Tedesco also said Widdersheim shut him out of his son’s life. He is not the father of the twins. He said his life has been horrible since he found what had been happening to his son.
Amendolea said she wants people to know the twins are on the road to recovery. She said the family they are living with is showering them with love and bringing a sense of normalcy back to their lives, although it will take a long time in counseling to fix the wounds they suffered.
“They’re with a family who loves them and supports them,” Amendolea said. “They’re getting their happy back.”