A day after a Jefferson County man was charged with homicide in the March 5 death of a 16-month-old boy, the toddler's mother was arrested for simple assault and endangering the welfare of her two children.
Kayla M. Lyons, 25, of Saltsburg was arraigned Wednesday evening and remains in the Indiana County Jail, said state police Trooper John Matchik in a news conference Thursday. She has also been charged with aggravated assault against her son.
Her former boyfriend, Shawn Anderson-Holmes, 28, of Brookville, was charged Tuesday with criminal homicide in the death of Colby Jozefczyk, who was bruised and appeared malnourished.
"At this time, we do not believe that Kayla Lyons was involved directly in the actions that specifically and conclusively led to the death of Colby," Trooper Matchik said. "This is why she has not been charged with criminal homicide."
But physical evidence and information gathered during the investigation led authorities to believe Ms. Lyons had been abusive, physically aggressive and neglectful to both Colby and her and 3-year-old daughter, said Trooper Matchik.
Investigators believe such abuse happened days before Colby's death.
A neighbor visiting around 3 p.m. March 4 told investigators Ms. Lyons slapped her daughter in the face, grabbed her from the high chair and threw her against the kitchen wall and then onto a sofa, because she was frustrated a when the girl became difficult to feed, according to the criminal complaint.
Mr. Anderson-Holmes told investigators Ms. Lyons forcibly fed Colby when he would not eat, picked him up by the wrists so that he was on his tip-toes, beat him in the buttocks with a hair brush and struck both children on the buttocks with her hands that weekend.
Troopers wrote in the affidavit Colby had bruises on his forehead, right biceps and right cheek and had a mark on his upper left arm. Westmoreland County deputy coroner John Ackerman thought the bruises on the boy's arm were "a couple of days old" while the one on his forehead was "newer than that," according to the affidavit.
The children's biological father and primary care provider, Jonathan Jozefczyk, told police he observed bruises on both children after a visit with their mother in February. That case was reported to authorities.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Jozefczyk dropped off the children for a visit at Ms. Lyons' home March 3 and when they appeared in good health after a few hours, he agreed to let her keep them overnight, then for the weekend.
Ms. Lyons told police the children had been sick Sunday night and that Mr. Anderson-Holmes gave Colby a bath while she took care of her daughter. Mr. Anderson-Holmes told police he awoke to find Colby face down in a playpen and began performing CPR, according to the affidavit.
Medics took Colby to Excela Latrobe Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than a half hour later and where his sister also was evaluated because she appeared to be bruised.
The manner of death is still undetermined. The Westmoreland County coroner listed the cause of death as sudden unexplained infant death.
After the news conference, Ms. Lyons' stepfather, Jerry Lytle, said his stepdaughter would never abuse her children and that she took good care of them.
"She is a good mother," he said.
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1944.