MURRIETA – A U.S. Navy Service member and his girlfriend are behind bars for the abuse of his young son leaving him in grave condition authorities said.
Benjamin Matthew Whitten, 33, and Jeryn Christine Johnson, 25, were arrested on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, following 911 call for medical aid for Whitten’s injured son. Murrieta police responded along with medical personnel for a call requesting medical aid for a child at a home in the 24000 block of Verdun Lane in Murrieta. When they arrived they found the boy with major injuries, which were not able to be explained by Whitten or Johnson. He was rushed to Temecula Valley Trauma Center, and was subsequently airlifted to Rady Children’s hospital in San Diego for a higher level of care due to the nature of his injuries.
The incident was determined to be caused by abuse to the child, whose identity and age have not yet been disclosed. The boy who is approximately 5-years-old is listed in grave condition and is not expected to survive. The couple was arrested for torture and cruelty to a child resulting in great bodily injury or death following questioning and a search of their home which authorities said was unsanitary. The home had nearly a dozen dogs and four cats, which were taken from the home by animal control. Witnesses said that Johnson had an animal rescue which she ran out of the home.
The couple is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta and are being held in lieu of $1,040,000 each.
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