A West Virginia couple, a 26-year-old mother and her 22-year-old boyfriend, were taken into custody earlier this month following allegations of fatally abusing the woman’s 3-year-old son. The pair initially claimed that the child’s death was the result of an accidental head injury caused by a dresser drawer. Kimberly A. Sears and Robert F. Reinhold are now facing charges of child death by a parent, guardian, or custodian due to child abuse.
The incident came to light on December 5 when authorities received a 911 call around 6:27 p.m. about an unresponsive toddler at a residence in the 400 block of Northridge Drive, approximately 100 miles southeast of Charleston, West Virginia. Reinhold, who made the call, informed the dispatcher that the child had suffered a fall and hit his head.
The child was immediately transported to the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center and later to Carillion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for further treatment. Upon arrival, the child was admitted to the ICU in critical condition. Reinhold, who was present when the authorities arrived, initially told the police that the child had fallen and hit his head on the carpeted floor while Sears was at work.
However, Reinhold’s story changed as he later suggested that the child’s head might have hit a dresser drawer. Following these allegations, he was arrested and initially charged with child abuse resulting in injury and malicious or unlawful assault.
Reinhold later confessed to investigators that he had seen the toddler attempting to kiss his sister, leading him to pull the boy away and push him in the chest. This action, he claimed, caused the child to fall and hit his head on the dresser drawer.
Despite the medical team’s best efforts, the toddler succumbed to his injuries a week later and was pronounced dead on December 11. On the same day, authorities in Roanoke, Virginia, arrested Sears on a warrant from Greenbrier County, charging her in connection with her son’s death. She was extradited to West Virginia and booked into the Southern Regional Jail.
Following the child’s death, the charges against Reinhold were upgraded from abuse to child death, a crime that carries a sentence of 15 years to life in a state correctional facility.
During an interview, Sears reportedly admitted that she was aware of Reinhold’s physical abuse towards her son, with documented injuries dating back to at least June 2023. She also confirmed that the state Department of Health and Human Resources had been investigating child abuse allegations since September 2023.