SHELBY, N.C. -- A Shelby couple is in jail charged with the murder of the woman's 2-year-old son. Relatives of the young boy say earlier reports made to authorities of alleged child abuse at the home were ignored.
Cindy Cochran says her biggest fear was that her great-nephew Jeremiah Swafford wouldn't live to see his third birthday in March. Sadly, this past weekend that came true.
"What kind of mother would let that happen to their child?" Cochran asked.
On Saturday, Jeremiah died of severe head trauma and other injuries that authorities say his mother, Kathy Lynn Swafford, and stepfather, Stacy Dwight Justice, inflicted on the boy.
According to authorities, it wasn't the first time they'd been to the home. Detectives say they conducted a thorough investigation in late December that included the Department of Social Services.
But investigators did not want to elaborate on those findings because they worry it might jeopardize the current case.
DSS Director Karen Ellis would neither confirm nor deny their involvement in Jeremiah's case.
"I think it's a tragedy for this community any time a child is in the care of their parents or caretakers and we learn the child has died or been severely injured. One child is too many," Ellis said. "Even if you did everything by the book, initiated on time, talked with everybody that you should have -- when you are that worker and when you work at Social Services you wish you could have done more. You wish you had a crystal ball to be able to predict human behavior."
Jeremiah's funeral will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at New Buffalo Baptist Church in Grover.
Swafford and Justice are being held without bond. They were assigned interim court-appointed lawyers on Monday. They are due back in court March 9.