Couple arrested in starvation death of wife's sister

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

October 23, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---An Augusta couple arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, in the starvation death of the wife's sister.

Richmond County investigators say deputies and EMT personnel went to 3332 Karian Drive to respond to a call about a death Sunday afternoon. There, they say 47-year-old Jeanne Peterson told them her sister, 30-year-old Christina Baxter, was dead. However, deputies were not immediately allowed into the residence. 52-year-old Buel Peterson carried Baxter out into the front yard, where EMTs were unable to revive her.

Neighbor Amanda Usry watched as the horrific scene unfolded. " I thought it was a child at first because of how small she was. It's just horrible. Shouldn't nobody die like that. And if there was a 200 pound pig like they say there was, how could they feed it and not feed her?"

Deputies say Baxter's arms showed extreme muscle and tissue loss, and her ribs were visibly exposed through "a thin layer of body tissue". They say she "appeared to be extremely malnourished and had the physical features of a small child".

Deputies discovered Baxter was blind, deaf, and physically unable to feed herself.

An autopsy revealed her body weight at time of death was 46 pounds. The preliminary cause of death was complications due to malnutrition, and the manner of death was then determined to be homicide by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

"The wife was always there from what we seen so I don't understand why she didn't take care of her." asks Usry.

Deputies eventually inspected the home and saw feces covering the floors, two to three year old cobwebs covering the ceilings, trash and discarded food throughout the home, feces covering the toilet, bathtub and sinks, a dog, cat and 200 pound pig living in the home, and "an extremely large" roach infestation.

"The home is a hazard to the entire neighborhood. No person in any society should be forced to live this way." Says Sgt. Richard Roundtree. "It's the worst scene of human living conditions we've ever seen."

The home was condemned Tuesday afternoon, two days after Baxter's death.

"She was a captive in her own home. She was unable to reach out for help, she was unable to get help." adds Sgt. Roundtree.

"If they neglected her and let her die in such horrible conditions, they need to be dealt with." says Usry.

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  • by Joy Location: New York on Feb 14, 2010 at 02:01 PM
    To: judge not Location: augusta on Oct 28, 2007 at 11:51 PM How can we "judge not?" She was blind and deaf, and helpless. She starved to death, and died weighing less than 47 pounds. Her sister and brother in law didn't take her to a doctor or a hospital. They let her die in filth. It's obvious that they had mental problems. They must have. But, to let another living being die the way this woman died. How can we not judge??
  • by Patricia Location: Augusta on Mar 18, 2008 at 12:26 AM
    Where were you folks when the Petersens showed up for Magistrate Court 3.17.08. I wasn't there to judge, only observe and on behalf of Christina Baxter... Where were you?
  • by Claudia Location: Hephzibah on Jan 15, 2008 at 08:08 PM
    Please help me find my puppy. She was taken from my front yard. She was given to me by my son on New Years Day. Her name is Leona. 3 months old. Chocolate Female lab puppy with blue/grey eyes. She has an ID chip inserted in her neck. She was last seen at midnight on Saturday, Jan 12. When I awoke Sunday morning to call her inside, she was no where to be found. She dug under the fence and went out front. I could tell because she dug in the plant on the porch, her ball was moved and her paw prints were on the front screen door. I have made the attempts listed to find her since Sunday morning. I walked around calling her name, spoke to neighbors, drove around the neighborhood asking those I saw on the street. Gave a poster to the Sprint store at the corner. Posted a sign in my front yard. I contacted the local pound, vet and home again. Put signs on the stop signs. Will have to redo again because they were gone when I came home from work today. I can email a pic.
  • by judge not Location: augusta on Oct 28, 2007 at 08:51 PM
    the living conditions were horrible.however some of the comments i have read here are also all of you know for a fact that christina did not see a doctor? do you know for a fact how much money they received for her care? what happened was wrong.your quest to lench the care giver does not bring her back, or wright the wrong. your mean and ugly comments only sink you to their level. what would jesus do? read your bible.judge not less ye be judged. learn to find forgivness in your heart. do not forget the sad event that has happened, but do not allow your self to become a vile person by allowing hatred in your heart.
  • by Outraged on Oct 27, 2007 at 06:07 AM
    This is voluntary manslaughter, not involuntary. They starved the woman to death and probably planned to feed her remains to the pig had the police not arrested them! Then Christina's checks would have continued coming in the mail and no one would have known the difference. Their very existence is a crime!
  • by Conerned Location: Thomson on Oct 26, 2007 at 05:59 AM
    Thank god Christina is in the best home that anybody could ever have now (HEAVEN.) No more hunger, no more filth,she has a new set of eyes and can hear very well. We often wonder why things happen and sometimes can't seem to understand but god knows all about it. God may be trying to give people a wakeup call to keep your eyes open because they are a lot more of these type things going on that people need to check on and be aware of. If anything seems like something is not quite right around your neighborhood please have your local authorities check on it it's their job it could save a life.
  • by Kim Location: Martinez on Oct 25, 2007 at 08:13 PM
    This is the most disgusting and inhumane treatment of a human being that I have ever seen. This couple should be made to clean up the filth in this "house" and then be imprisoned for the rest of their lives with the most vile rapists and murderers. Maybe this will teach them to value human life but I seriously doubt it. No form of punishment will ever be severe enough for two people imitating human beings!!
  • by Michelle Location: Newnan, GA on Oct 25, 2007 at 04:48 PM
    If that's an example of Chuck's "love", thank goodness he doesn't "love" me. This was two able bodied humans, who had the ability to help her, clean their house. Why didn't they take her to the doctor? What's their excuse for that? Their is no excuse for this.
  • by Thankful Location: Somewhere Out There on Oct 25, 2007 at 03:09 PM
    God has you now, Christina! No more worries.....
  • by cristina Location: auguata ga on Oct 25, 2007 at 01:41 PM
    to mr roundtree: you have a moral obligation to charge these people with PRE-MEDITATED MURDER. point blank.
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