By Ernie Brown JR.
Family members of Shain P. Widdersheim remain steadfast in their denials they ever turned their backs on her during her troubles with Zaryl Bush.
In fact, they said it was Widdersheim who pushed the family away during a relationship with Bush that began in 2008.
Widdersheim, 33, was convicted on four counts of child endangering and a count of obstruction of justice for allowing Bush to abuse her twin sons and her 14-year-old son Teddy Foltz in what police and prosecutors say was constant abuse. Teddy died in January 2013. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Bush, 44, is serving a 33-years-to-life prison sentence for fatally beating Teddy, subjecting Teddy’s twin brothers to abuse and trying to get the brothers to cover up the crime.
Members of the Foltz family came to The Vindicator last week to clarify and debunk several statements Widdersheim made in an interview at the Mahoning County jail. The story appeared in the newspaper last Sunday.
They said they were appalled at how Widdersheim portrayed the family, especially when she indicated the family abandoned her and her sons.
Attending the interview were Widdersheim’s parents, Paul Foltz of Youngstown, Sara Foltz of Hubbard; her sister, Lilly Foltz of Hubbard; and her grandfather, John Shuey of Youngstown. Paul and Sara Foltz are divorced.
Widdersheim, a 1999 Brookfield High School graduate, said in her interview she and the boys planned to leave Bush in the summer of 2012 when Bush went to work. She said, however, Bush had someone watching her house all the time, and the escape plan failed to happen.
Her family, however, said Widdersheim and the boys attended a family member’s funeral in April 2012 without Bush.
“She knew very well we could have helped her,” Paul Foltz said. “But she never said anything to us [at that time] that she was having any problems.”
Shuey said, “She could have asked me for help at any time.”
Widdersheim said there was an unresolved family matter that caused a rift with her family. She lived in her car with the boys for 10 days. Bush offered her a place to stay until she could get back on her feet, Widdersheim said.
Lilly Foltz said, “It was her choice to stay with Zaryl,” and she chose him over her family.
Sara and Paul Foltz said the family supported Widdersheim when she got pregnant in high school by Shawn Tedesco, who is Teddy’s father. Sara Foltz said she was at Northside Medical Center when Teddy was born.
Tedesco said in a separate interview this week that he wanted to be in the birthing room for the birth of his son, but Widdersheim blocked him, and she also did the same when he wanted to see Teddy in the hospital before he died.
When Shain married Dallas Widdersheim Sr., the Foltz support continued through the birth of the twins. Sara Foltz said she helped take care of one of the twins, who was born with a congenital problem.
Sara Foltz said she never kicked her daughter out of the house in which Widdersheim was living in Hubbard. The house was in Sara Foltz’ name. Lilly Foltz said Widdersheim told their mother she was moving out of the house “because she didn’t want to live under your [Sara’s] thumb.”
Lilly Foltz added her sister called their mother repeatedly for help when Widdersheim was having difficulty caring for the three boys.
At some point, Widdersheim also lived in Hubbard with her mother.
Paul Foltz said he later found out that Widdersheim had moved to Creed Street in Struthers. He said she told him he should call her and stop in whenever he was in the city. When he did call her, however, she either would not answer, not return his call, or would say it was a “bad time” for him to stop by.
Sara Foltz added that it was Teddy who told her he lived at 533 Creed St. — Bush’s home.
Sara Foltz brought a copy of a certified letter from April Williams, a longtime friend of Widdersheim’s, who lived next door to her for six years when Widdersheim lived in Masury. Williams worked at a local domestic violence/rape crisis shelter as the shelter manager.
In Widdersheim’s interview, she said she had no knowledge of where to get help while in her abusive situation and did not know there were shelters available for her and her children. But in her letter, Williams says Widdersheim was “FULLY aware of her options.”
“When Teddy was about 18 months old [Widdersheim] moved our of her moms [sic]house for the FIRST time,” Williams wrote. “During that time she spent countless hours at my house and even watched my children on occasion. ...I have had COUNTLESS conversations with not only Shain but my children and several of their other friends about the Cycle of Violence. I’ve taught them things to watch for and how to determine if you are in an abusive relationship and ways to get out of that relationship.”
She continued: “During one of those conversations I remember clearly Shain saying to me that she would NEVER let a man hit on her! Now giving her the benifit [sic] of the doubt, its [sic]possible that she may have forgotten all of the steps that I taught her all those years ago. So my next question to her would be, why didnt [sic]she ask me again during the many conversations we had in Facebook private messages (that I can provide) from Feb. 20, 2011 until Jan. 23, 2013 when Teddy was in the hospital? (none of which she expressed any fear or desire to leave, just the opposite!)”
Lilly Foltz said her sister also knew of at least two shelters where she could have gone to escape the abuse from Bush.
Sara Foltz also has a copy of Widdersheim’s journal with entries from March to June 2010 — a period Bush and Widdersheim were seeing one another.
In the journal, Widdersheim admits leaving the boys with Bush at his home on Creed Street on several occasions while she was taking classes at Choffin Career & Technical Center to become a state-tested nursing assistant.
Widdersheim also says in her journal that on one occasion, a caseworker from Trumbull County Children Services came to her home to investigate a complaint the twins had made against Bush in March 2010.
She said the caseworker talked to the twins, but left after a 15-minute interview and told Widdersheim the case was closed.
Paul Foltz said the last time he saw Teddy alive was in the hospital, three days before he died. Widdersheim told him Teddy had suffered a massive stroke and was not expected to live.
He added that Widdersheim and Bush had already made funeral arrangements and set up the cremation for Teddy, which the family did not know anything about.
“Shain banned us from seeing Teddy and the twins,” Paul Foltz said.
Widdersheim said she had been sexually, physically, verbally and mentally abused from the time she was a child.
Sara and Paul Foltz said Widdersheim and her siblings, as children, were grounded, made to stand in a corner, and on rare occasions spanked.
Sara Foltz said the first time Widdersheim claimed any sexual molestation was when she was in junior-high school. Widdersheim said a family member molested her, but she revealed that information after her alleged molester died. Sara Foltz said she got professional counseling for Widdersheim.
They denied ever physically, verbally or mentally abusing Widdersheim.
The Foltz family is involved in a legal battle with Mahoning County Children Services to gain custody of the twins, who are now in foster care. They are also fighting children services to gain the ability to visit the twins.