Court docs show history of child abuse in LaPorte Co. homicide case

Court documents point to a history of abuse in the homicide case of a 4-year-old found dead in La Porte County.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 8:23 PM EDT
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NOTE: Case details listed below outline disturbing allegations of physical abuse

Newly obtained court documents are providing glimpses of alleged abuse a 4-year-old homicide victim endured on a regular basis. Judah Morgan was found dead early Monday morning at the Union Township home of his biological parents, Mary Yoder and Alan Morgan, who has been charged with murder.

Yoder was charged Wednesday with two felony counts of neglecting a dependent as well as misdemeanors for animal cruelty and failure to report possible abuse or neglect.

“I don’t know how anybody could do this to any child,” stated Jenna Hullett, the Morgans’ cousin and Judah’s former caregiver.

Hullett told 16 News Now that Judah was in her care for several years as the result of a kinship placement. This was from the time Judah was an infant until April 2021, when Hullett says DCS arranged to have the child live with his biological parents for a six-month home trial visit.

“He called me mommy. I was ‘Mommy.’ My husband was ‘Daddy,’” Jenna said.

Jenna and her children described Judah as jubilant boy, who loved tractors and uplifting others.

Court papers say when officers got inside the Morgan home through an unlocked door on Monday, they found Judah in a bedroom – naked but wrapped in a blanket and covered in bruises with red marks by his head. He didn’t have a pulse.

Deputies found three other children in the home, whom they escorted to an ambulance. But police did not find any adults or suspects in the first sweep of the home.

After getting a search warrant, investigators found the home in major disarray, with trash, rotten food, and animal feces intermixed with clothes. They found an extremely malnourished dog in a locked crate as well as a refrigerator that had a lock, preventing others from opening it.

The basement had duct tape strewn about – some attached to a blanket and children’s clothes, which reeked of urine. Additionally, detectives found a toddler training toilet that appeared to be filled with urine and feces.

“After [Judah] left my care, I don’t know that he was really living at all - in pain, um, in fear,” remarked Jenna.

Court documents state that Mary Yoder, Judah’s mother, alleged Alan Morgan, the boy’s biological father, would send their 4-year-old son to the basement as punishment for not being potty trained like his other siblings, typically three times a week.

“Ultimately, I don’t think it was because of his lack of being potty trained because he was potty trained before he left my care,” Jenna said. “I think it was a fear factor.”

Mary told investigators she personally saw and heard Alan binding Judah with duct tape and physically abusing him in other ways. Sometimes, she said Judah was kept in the basement for a few days at a time before he could come back upstairs with the rest of the family.

But when he was in the basement, Judah was left in the dark and denied food, both scare tactics, said Mary to police, per court documents. She admitted she would send Judah to the basement as punishment when Alan was at work but denied beating the boy.

In the affidavit, Judah’s older sibling reportedly told police he would hear what sounded like Judah being physically abused while in the basement with his parents. The charging papers also state that Mary sent a Facebook message to Judah’s uncle - Alan’s brother - asking for help 30 minutes before she called 911 Monday morning.

Yoder also reportedly said that she “could’ve put a stop to this but didn’t.”

Judah’s mother told police that the child was in the basement the last time she saw him on October 9th, which was when she left the house on her way to the hospital to give birth.

“We definitely want justice for Judah. I can’t express that enough. We need awareness - not just for Judah, for all the children - even his siblings,” she said.

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