INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A Grain Valley mother, who didn't show up Monday for her court appearance on child endangerment charges, received her sentencing on Tuesday, after she admitted she put her child in danger when she allowed a pet ferret to be near the baby.
The ferret chewed off seven of the 4-month-old boy's fingers.
A Jackson County judge ordered Carrie Waldo, 26, to spend 30 days in an in-patient drug treatment program. He wondered aloud whether a substance abuse problem may explain why she wasn't in court Monday.
Waldo's public defender declined to comment on whether she has a drug problem, but says he agreed to in-patient drug treatment for the mother of five.
"One of the conditions is that she receive in-patient drug treatment," said Judge Michael Manners. "There is an issue in my mind raised by that, as to whether she's used chemical substances in the past. And frankly I was concerned, as I noted in earlier dialogue we had about why she was not present for court yesterday."
Waldo admitted to Judge Manners that she knew her family's pet ferret had bitten her 4-month-old son previously, and yet she continued to allow the animal to have access to her baby.
Investigators say when police were called in January 2011, the boy had only two thumbs and part of a pinkie finger remaining on both of his hands. Carrie Waldo and her husband, Ryan, claimed they were asleep in a separate room and woke up when their son cried out.
However, prosecutors say text messages indicate the parents may not have been home at the time the baby was attacked.
Judge Manners ordered that Waldo not have any contact with any of her five children, no unlawful contact with children under 17, and she must submit to substance abuse screening whenever her probation officer demands it.
As part of the deal, prosecutors knocked down the child endangerment charge to a misdemeanor. If she successfully completes the in-patient drug treatment program, she will serve two years on probation.
When asked why the charge against Waldo was being reduced, prosecutor Alison Dunning said she met with the adoptive parents of the baby boy, and they agreed this would be the best punishment for the child's mother.