Terrible Two

Renee Polreis and her adopted son had a miserable life together--until someone put an end to it.

According to Kevin, Renee hurriedly explained to him that David had been sleeping with her in her bed when he began to choke. Kevin could not find a pulse on the stricken boy and told his sister to call 911. She didn't. In a court hearing last month, Alice Risk was asked about the delay in calling for help. She explained that she was not terribly worried about the boy's condition because she'd seen David have fits before. In fact, Smreker told police that in her deposition last month, Alice Risk said David "looked better than I'd ever seen him." Alice reportedly added that she called Kathy Teal and asked her to come over and that she told Renee to phone her therapists.

Nobody had yet called for an ambulance.
Renee took her mother's advice and phoned Byron Norton and Lloyd Boggs. Both of those men have thus far declined to speak with authorities about those conversations. But they apparently did speak with Isaac's court-appointed guardian ad litem. The guardian, Gayla Lindquist, later told police that Boggs said Renee admitted that she'd hurt David.

Renee finally called for medical assistance at 4:19 a.m. Shortly afterward, a man identifying himself as a psychologist called 911 and asked if Renee Polreis had just called for an ambulance. According to the 911 tapes, the psychologist went on to say that he'd had a call from a client who told him she had just beaten her son.

When firefighters got to the house, they found Kevin Risk in the driveway talking on a cellular phone. He told them to go up to the bathroom, where they found David alone with Teal. According to a firefighter's report, when asked if David had any medical problems, Teal responded that David was an unattached child who'd been adopted from Russia and was undergoing therapy. As a matter of fact, Teal informed them, David had seen a counselor just the day before, and as part of his therapy, he'd had to sit in a chair and face the wall all day long.

As soon as the firefighters unzipped David's red sleeper pajamas, they told police, they suspected the boy had been abused. His chest and stomach were mottled with bruises. When asked how David could have gotten the injuries, Teal reportedly again launched into a discussion of David's psychological disorder.

Firefighter Curt Walter told investigators that whenever he'd try to ask a question of Teal, Renee or her mother and brother, they would all look at each other before answering. When they finally did answer, Walter said, they gave no specifics. Walter also told police that he felt the four adults were unusually calm given the situation. He wrote in his report that the family members didn't seem to be upset or agitated at David's condition, nor did they seem overly concerned when the firefighters began performing CPR on the boy.

In a court hearing last month, Teal, who has been uncooperative with authorities, denied making the comments about attachment disorder to the firefighters.

Officers who arrived at Greeley's North Colorado Medical Center in time to see David wheeled into the emergency room reported seeing severe purple bruises covering most of David's chest and stomach and continuing down to his thighs. They also observed cuts on his leg. When doctors removed David's diaper, they found the boy's testicles red and swollen and the tip of his penis bleeding.

Kevin Risk had followed the ambulance to the hospital. His sister, however, never showed up at the emergency room. Police reports say that when asked where Renee was, Kevin Risk told officers that he expected her to come by later but that she was trying to locate an attorney first. Another officer testified in court last month that Renee told him the same thing--and added that another reason she didn't visit her son was that she was afraid of hospitals. Renee's defense attorneys are attempting to have Renee's statement declared inadmissible at trial.

One of the people Renee phoned that morning in her search for an attorney was Julie Haralson, who'd helped with the adoption of Isaac. Haralson says Renee told her an ambulance had just taken David away. Renee was calm, Haralson adds, and told her that when David was released from the hospital, she did not want him back, but instead wanted him placed in foster care.

Emergency-room doctors were unsure at first if David had been beaten or if he had blood poisoning, which might also have accounted for the severe bruising. They took samples of David's blood and performed other tests, but by 6 a.m. they determined that David's condition was so grave he should be flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Denver.

The physicians at Children's weren't as shy about stating the cause of David's condition. Dr. Emily Dobyns told Greeley police that when the boy arrived at Children's, he had no brain-stem function and was placed on life support. She added that David had received one of the worst beatings she'd ever seen on a child.

Dobyns showed the officers marks on the boy's arms that appeared to have been made by fingers. David's buttocks were blistered. She also pointed out some long, linear cuts on the boy's abdomen, as if he'd been struck with a straight-edged object. She told officers that the assault had to have occurred within the past fourteen hours.

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