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Mom arrested after photo of son hanging by his shirt is posted to social media
December 29, 2016
What a young mother said started out as "a joke" turned into a serious investigation in Spotsylvania County, Va.
A Facebook photo of a 14-month-old toddler hanging from a door frame by his T-shirt led police to launch a child abuse investigation. WTVR reports that Alexis Breeden, 18, the toddler's mother, turned herself in after the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office issued a felony warrant for her arrest.
According to WTVR, Breeden took the photo between Sept. 1 and Sept. 10, 2014, in a misguided attempt at humor. She told reporters, "All it was, was to be a joke. He was laughing…put it in his baby book." She then sent the photo to the baby's father, who The Smoking Gun identifies as Anthony Welch, 18, and insists to WTVR that her son was not injured as a result of her stunt. According to the Free Lance-Star, Breeden and Welch became embroiled in an argument three weeks later, which led Welch to post the photo to Facebook in retaliation, along with the caption the Smoking Gun quoted as "Everybody think that alexis is a good mom this is what she sent me. tell me ... the f— yall think." Outrage over the photo on social media launched a full-scale police investigation concerning potential child abuse. The police tell WTVR that Welch was not charged in connection with the image in question.
WTVR reported that Breeden initially was facing a felony child abuse charge because of the photo. WTVR also indicates that Breeden pleaded guilty to an unrelated assault and battery charge against another family member. Because of that incident, she reportedly underwent a mental health evaluation and completed a mandatory anger management course.
According to a Free Lance-Star article published on April 16, 2015, Breeden pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and received a suspended 12-month sentence in connection with the photo of her son. Dircia DeJesus, the prosecutor in Breeden's case, informed reporters, "a number of factors went into the suspended sentence, including Breeden's age, her mental health issues, her minimal criminal history and her cooperation with investigators." As a result of the sentence, the baby was placed into the care of Breeden's mother, and Breeden is not to have unsupervised contact with the child.
Breeden expressed remorse to WTVR about her actions, stating, “I regret taking the picture, even putting him up there… I really do."