Huntsville police: Children in starvation, death case weighed 13 and 15 pounds

Police said her 3-year-old son was skin and bones, and dried up feces was found in his diaper.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 2:07 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2019 7:21 PM

The Huntsville stay-at-home mother accused of starving two of her kids was in court Thursday.

Ashley Catron, 36, was crying as a Huntsville Police Department investigator took the stand and talked about the investigation into her 3-year-old son Hendrix Frink's death.

Ashley Catron

Police were called to the family's Maple Ridge Boulevard home on July 23. Investigators said HEMSI and Huntsville Fire and Rescue were already there. The couple's 3-year-old and 4-year-old sons were already being taken to Huntsville hospital when police arrived.

Hendrix, the 3-year-old son who died, only weighed 13 pounds, according to investigators. Police said he was skin and bones, and dried up feces was found in his diaper.

The couple's 4-year-old son has been fighting for his life since July, according to testimony. Police said he weighed only 15 pounds, and was released from the hospital recently.

The investigator said chunks of pancakes were found in the boy's mouth the day he was taken to the hospital, and they had to be pulled out before a feeding tube could be placed by doctors. Investigators said it appeared someone was trying to feed him. Police said the 4-year-old now weighs 26 pounds.

The investigator said Catron's husband, Fredrick Frink, arrived home from his job at TVA about 7:15 a.m. July 23. Frink, who goes by TJ, told investigators he went straight to bed where his wife was and they slept until about 10 a.m.

Frink told investigators he would then normally wake up and get the couple's 4-year-old son from his crib and then go back to get Hendrix.

Frink woke that morning and went to get Hendrix from his crib and found him unresponsive, according to the investigator. Police said on a 911 call Frink can be heard screaming and that his son was unresponsive. The dispatcher advised the parents to give Hendrix CPR until help arrived.

The investigator said Huntsville Fire and Rescue arrived to find the boy emaciated.

Investigators said when they went through the home it smelled like urine, and the two boys shared a bedroom that had two cribs inside. Both cribs were stained with urine and blood, and investigators said it looked like one of the cribs had been chewed on.

Police said there was a TV tray with food near the couch in the family room that had an assortment of breakfast items including pancakes, cereal and milk. Investigators also found Popeyes chicken boxes and doughnut boxes in the couple's master bedroom.

Catron and Frink both told investigators she didn't believe in taking her kids to the doctor after an incident at the hospital in 2018. Instead, Catron said she gave both boys PediaSure to "revive" them.

Investigators said preliminary finding show both kids were starved.

Both parents are in jail with a $200,000 bond.

Huntsville police said there is no record of DHR responding to the home. Neighbors told investigators they didn't see the kids playing at all and they would only sometimes see Catron come outside to smoke a cigarette. Frink's mom told investigators she tried to go over to see her grandchildren 8 months prior to the incident and they wouldn't let her.

Catron was facing two aggravated child abuse charges for a child under the age of 6. One of those charges was sent to the Madison County Grand Jury. The other charge was dismissed because of an error in the paperwork. Investigators are refiling that charge.

Frink is also facing two aggravated child abuse charges. He asked a judge to reduce his bond to be between $5,000 and $30,000.

The judge wrote in an order, "Defendant has two cases charging the offenses of aggravated child abuse. The allegations involve the starvation death of one child and the serious physical injury of another young child by starvation. Both children were in the care and custody of the Defendant and were under the age of six years old. Although the Defendant has no prior criminal history, the Court finds that the nature of the offense charged, the apparent probability of conviction and the likely sentence would contribute to a substantial risk of nonappearance. Therefore the Defendant's motion to reduce bond is hereby DENIED."

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