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October 20, 2014

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Murder charges filed against parents of 4-year-old boy who died after 17 hours in car

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Stanley E. Rimer

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Colleen M. Rimer

The District Attorney has filed charges against the parents of a 4-year-old boy who died after being left in a car for 17 hours on June 8.

Stanley and Colleen Rimer are being charged with second-degree murder of their son Jason Rimer, as well as multiple counts of child abuse, neglect and endangerment.

Papers released by the DA's office today paint a disturbing picture of the Rimer home on the day Jason was discovered.

Police were dispatched to the home on June 9 at approximately 8:30 in the morning after receiving 311 (non-emergency) phone call indicating that a family member had found Jason cold and not moving in a family car. Colleen Rimer told police dispatchers Jason had been in the vehicle since 3 p.m. the previous day, when the family had returned from church.

EMTs were dispatched to the house, and when ambulance workers pulled up to the scene, they observed Jason being removed from the family's Ford Excursion by another of the Rimer's five children - 19-year-old Brandon. After Jason was declared dead, police called for representatives from Metro's Abuse/Neglect section.

Colleen Rimer told the Metro investigators that she had driven several her children home from church services the previous morning, and allegedly forgot Jason was in the car. He was ultimately discovered by a 14-year-old brother who was loading camping gear into the car the following morning.

Jason was wearing his church clothes: a white shirt, a blue tie and black lace up boots. A coroner's investigator reported that his abdomen was "green in color, and had a mottled appearance," according to papers released by the DA.

Police who searched the home found it to be in a state of considerable disarray. There was a bad smell in the air, animal feces present in many areas, rooms cluttered with boxes and debris, "rendering occupancy and normal use difficult." The kitchen, police discovered, was also being used as storage, while the parent's bedroom seemingly served as a quazi-kitchen, with a fridge and microwave inside.

A check with Child Protective Services revealed that the Rimer family come to the attention of the agency 23 times between 1998 and May 2007, for anything from allegations of physical abuse, medical neglect, sexual abuse and filthy home conditions.

Police noted that the parent's bedroom was "noticeably more orderly and generally clean than the rest of the residence, in particular the downstairs area where the children slept and generally resided."

The family told police that Jason suffered from a medical condition known as myotonic dystrophy - a form of muscular dystrophy characterized by the wasting of muscles. One of the couple's children told police that after church, the parents "were upstairs for the rest of the day" sleeping and watching movies.

Jason's father, Stan, told police the boy had never been able to open car doors on his own. He could not dress himself, put on his shoes, and had not been potty trained. He had a vocabulary of approximately 25 words and weighed 33 pounds.

Stan Rimer told police that he and his wife felt poorly after church, and napped without speaking much or discussing Jason. When he saw his son in the Excursion the following morning, he told police he immediately knew the boy was deceased, and never attempted to revive him. He did not touch Jason or sit in the same seat, and when the paramedics pulled up, the father had gone inside for a drink of water.

Colleen Rimer told police Jason had also been sick. She said she asked another child to take Jason out of the car after church, but speculated that child may not have heard her, as a cold had compromised her voice. Inside the home, Colleen said she asked her children if anyone had seen Jason. The children didn't know where he was, and assumed he was sleeping. She looked for Jason, but then got distracted with bringing her husband dinner and picking up another child who had remained at church after the family left.

When she went back to church, Colleen drove her husband's truck, and left the Excursion parked. When police asked whether Jason might have any unexplained injuries or anything unusual on his body once examined, she said he "might have a few lice bugs in his hair."

One child told police that CPS had been to the house before, because all of her siblings had lice and could not get rid of it. She also told police her father had instructed her not to talk to CPS about Jason.

Several of the couple's children told police their father was physically abusive. When asked why she had not looked for Jason, even after her children reported the 4-year-old was nowhere to be found, Colleen Rimer said, "I really don't know, I wasn't feeling well, for one thing my brain wasn't ... I don't know."

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