Detroit mom, stepdad charged with abuse that killed 5-year-old son, injured 3-year-old

5-year-old boy killed, 3-year-old taken to hospital

DETROIT – A Detroit couple has been charged with murder, child abuse, and torture in the death of their 5-year-old son and abuse of their 3-year-old son, prosecutors said.

Officers were called at 1:07 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 22) to a home in the 14600 block of Spring Garden Street, which is in the area of 7 Mile Road and Chalmers Street on Detroit’s east side.

Related: Lincoln Park police investigated child abuse before 5-year-old killed, 3-year-old injured

When they arrived, police saw 5-year-old Ethan Belcher being taken to an EMS truck. He was brought to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.

A 3-year-old boy was found at another location with bruises on his head and face, according to authorities. Medical officials took him to the hospital for treatment.

Ethan’s aunt, Ashley Belcher, told Local 4 she reported the abuse to authorities last year. She said she took photos of his bruises and cuts and gave them to investigators. She said Lincoln Park police and Child Protective Services opened an investigation, but ultimately the kids ended up back in the parents’ care.

“We could have saved his life,” said Ashley Belcher. “Had they just listened. It wasn’t just me. It was other people who reported it, and they got sent to take some classes, and they got these children back, and it was a house of terror.”

Belcher said Ethan’s body was found with bruises and burns.

“He has over 100 cigarette burns on his body, he had frostbitten feet, and he was missing a toe that never was taken care of,” Belcher said.

Shane Robert Shelton, 27, and Valeria Lynn Hamilton, 27, both of Detroit, are accused of physically abusing both boys. Hamilton is Ethan’s biological mother, and Shelton is his stepfather, officials said.

“The alleged facts in this case are extremely alarming,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. “The evidence will come out in court.”

Shelton and Hamilton are both charged with felony murder, torture, conspiracy to commit torture, and two counts of first-degree child abuse.

They were arraigned Wednesday at 36th District Court and remanded to the Wayne County Jail. A probable cause conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. Feb. 8.

Shane Robert Shelton (Wayne County Prosecutor's Office)
Valeria Lynn Hamilton (Wayne County Prosecutor's Office)


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.