Prosecutor: Centralia toddler was tortured before she died

Prosecutor: Centralia toddler was tortured before she died
CENTRALIA, Wash. -- The 2-year-old girl who was found dead at a home on Thursday may have been tortured in the weeks before she died, according to investigators.

Koralynn Fister's death has been ruled as a homicide. She died of blunt force trauma to the head and drowning, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

But investigators are focusing on the weeks leading up to the girl's death. At the center of the investigation is her mother's boyfriend, James M. Reeder, who is accused of systematically torturing the toddler.

Detectives said Reed asked the girl's mother for permission to babysit the girl all day and every day at the home in the 200 block of W. Oakview Ave.

Reed repeatedly raped the child and hurt her so badly that patches of skin were missing from her body and her toes, according to court documents.

"I won't go into graphic detail, but suffice it to say that in my entire legal career, this is the worst case of child abuse and neglect I have seen," said Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.

Reed called 911 at approximately 3 p.m. Thursday and said the child was not breathing. Medics arrived to find Reeder performing CPR on the girl, who was unconscious.

Reeder told police he had been giving the girl a bath when he left the room to grab a towel. When he returned to the bathroom, he said the girl was underwater, facedown and unconscious.

The girl was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Reeder told investigators he believes the girl drowned during his short absence. Police believe there is more to the story, however, as both new and old injuries were found on her body.

"There are injuries that are recent injuries and injuries that have healed, and those always lead us to believe that there's a long-term problem that's been occurring," said Centralia Police Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald.

Reeder was arrested for investigation of first-degree murder and booked into Lewis County Jail.

Neighbors said they had often heard the girl crying loudly at disturbing levels.

"I was tempted, so tempted to call the sheriff's office and tell them about it because it was awful," said neighbor Ella Morgan. "I'm so sorry I didn't call somebody. A kid don't cry all the time, and this kid cried all the time. I mean, (she) cried into a big scream."

Child Protective Services said it has no record of previous dealings with the girl's family.

Police were also questioning the girl's mother, who was not home at the time of the 911 call.

A 4-year-old girl also lives at the home, but she was not present at the time of the incident. She has been placed in protective custody.