Fawn Waack's 4-year-old son spent most of his days in a Davenport day care where a meth lab was discovered by police the week after Christmas.
The boy tested three times higher for methamphetamine than Amanda Taylor, the woman who ran the day care and who has since pleaded guilty to four felonies, including child endangerment.
Taylor, 34, is scheduled to be sentenced next week. Meanwhile, her live-in boyfriend, Dale Blumer, 35, pleaded guilty to manufacturing meth, child endangerment and two other felonies, and a serious misdemeanor.
After sentencing Blumer to 25 years in prison, Scott County District Judge Nancy Tabor suspended the sentence, releasing him to probation.
Waack now lives in fear of the unknown effects of high-level meth exposure to such a young child and is furious her son never was listed as a victim in Blumer's case.
"Every kid in that day care was a victim, actually," Waack said. "My son got the worst of it, but no one thought of him. It's like he doesn't exist."
In an email exchange this week, Tabor said she never was made aware of any victims in the Blumer case.
"I made my decision based upon the information in the file, which did not contain any comments or statements from any parents or anyone else on behalf of the state," the judge wrote. "There were numerous comments at sentencing and letters in the file supporting the defendant however there were none regarding any victims nor information that there were victims nor did anyone speak on behalf of the state or any victims at the sentencing."
The case files
During an interview with a Quad-City Times reporter, Freddie Taylor, Amanda Taylor's ex-husband and the father of her four children, thumbed through copies of the 10 letters that were contained in court files, written to Tabor on Blumer's behalf. Most of them were from family members seeking leniency.
"I can't even read these," he said, dropping them. "My kids were living in that house with a meth lab in the bedroom. Police came and called them out of the house with a blow horn. My daughter will always remember coming out of the house with police pointing guns at them.
"I would have liked to address the judge — let her know this guy's really done a number on my kids."
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said Waack's son is listed as a registered victim in the state's case against Taylor but not Blumer. The reason, he said, is Taylor's arrest came after the boy's meth exposure was discovered.
"Blumer was subsequently charged with the additional counts, including child endangerment, but his case remained separate in both our file and the court file," he said. "The victim registration in Taylor was never transferred over to Blumer’s file in our system.
"Admittedly, our focus in Blumer was on the Class B felony, manufacturing methamphetamine for which a conviction was obtained, plus convictions in three other class D felonies and a serious misdemeanor. Blumer has been sentenced to 25 years and could still go to prison on a 25-year sentence."
Walton applauded the work of Assistant County Attorney Kelly Cunningham, who he said "consulted" with the parents of children in the day care in pursuing charges against Blumer.
Neither Waack nor Freddie Taylor ever heard of Cunningham, however, and said the only time they were contacted was when their subpoenas were canceled, following the guilty pleas. Cunningham was not available for comment.
The fact Blumer "could" go to prison, only if he violates terms of his parole, outrages Waack and Freddie Taylor.
"He served a total of 178 days, 11 hours, 16 minutes in the Scott County Jail, and the only reason he served that much time was because he was unable to post the bail," Freddie Taylor said. "That little boy (Waack's son) isn't even my kid, and my eyes water up just thinking about it. I don't know whether they were blowing that garbage (meth) in his face, but he obviously ingested it. That's a kid."
Amanda Taylor tested positive for methamphetamine, according to records maintained by the Department of Human Services. A positive result begins at 500 pg/mg (picograms per milligram), and she tested at 681 pg/mg.
Waack's 4-year-old tested at 2,102 pg/mg.
She wonders whether Tabor would have granted Blumer probation if she knew the extent of the boy's exposure to the drugs. She wrote the judge an email, asking, "If it were one of your children who tested positive for meth, would Dale Blumer be on the streets today?
"I understand you have to make tough decisions everyday, and I'm not angry. I'm brokenhearted, because I don't feel you were thinking about my innocent 4-year-old."
Tabor replied, "I acknowledge receipt of your email and can only say that I made my decision on information provided to me prior to the sentencing or at the hearing. I do not schedule sentencing dates, and the county attorney must give notice to any victims."
Waack said the judge should have known there were victims, in part because the child-endangerment charge includes the words "meth exposure," meaning a child was exposed.
"Did the judge not get a copy of the DHS report?" she asked. "What about the police reports? It is stated in the reports my 4-year-old son tested positive for meth."
Waack has been notified by the county attorney of the July 11 sentencing of Amanda Taylor and already has written her victim-impact statement. Had she been notified of the Blumer sentencing and of her right to speak as a victim, she said, "My whole family would have written letters."
Asked whether she noticed anything different about her son during the time he was exposed to methamphetamine, Waack began to cry.
"I wish I'd taken him out of there," she said. "Why didn't I take him out?
"As I look back, during that time, there was insomnia. I thought he was just fighting sleep or had a late nap. I took him into my room with me several times. One time, I woke up at 3 a.m., and he was still awake."
Amanda Taylor has repeatedly denied using meth, telling Department of Human Services workers she tested positive from "hugging" Blumer, which transferred the drug from his pores to hers.
Freddie Taylor, who shared custody of his children, was given full custody, temporarily, after his ex-wife's arrest. She was allowed only supervised visits until recently when she began seeing the kids alone, he said, adding he intends to pursue full custody, permanently.
"My oldest daughter complained of headaches to the point I was thinking maybe she was having migraines," he said. "The DHS worker who went in the house after the arrest said she almost immediately got a headache. These things are terribly worrisome to me."
Turning to Freddie Taylor, Waack said, "I feel bad for your kids, saying their mom should go to prison. It's hard to say what's fair for the two of them, prison-wise, because I'm a mom. I do know this man harmed my child and could've killed all those children. They could've all died."
Freddie Taylor said it is difficult to consider how lucky his four children are, given they were living in a house with a meth lab that could have exploded at any time.
"I think Blumer thinks he got away with something," he said.
Added Waack, "He did."