When 2-year-old Evangelina Wing was found dead, her mother Dorothy told police she’d fallen off the toilet. But the little girl’s battered and bruised body suggested otherwise. The finger was soon pointed at Dorothy and her boyfriend Randy Roden. But why would the couple want to harm the toddler?
On 20 December 2014, police received a call from a mother. Her 2-year-old had stopped breathing and was unresponsive.
They raced to the home in Seaside, Oregon, USA, but little Evangelina Wing was already dead.
Her mother Dorothy Wing, then 24, and her boyfriend Randy Roden, 26, claimed the little girl had fallen off the toilet a few days before.
But Wing’s other children – two boys aged 3 and 5 – also had injuries.
The boys were taken to hospital and, in the following days, Wing and Roden were arrested.
Police didn’t believe the couple’s story about Evangelina falling. They suspected foul play. But what had been going on behind closed doors that led to the little girl’s death?
A murder investigation was launched, and soon the horrifying details emerged…
Wing reportedly met Roden earlier in 2014, after splitting with her husband, the kids’ dad. Within a month, that October, Roden moved into her home. But he had a violent past, including charges for domestic violence.
He was breaking the terms of his probation by moving in with Wing and not informing his probation officer.
Wing didn’t seem fazed by his past, though, often leaving her kids in Roden’s care.
Evangelina’s oldest brother told investigators that their mum and Roden would chain and lock them up in a cage like dogs and burn them with lit pieces of paper.
An autopsy soon revealed Evangelina had apparently died from blunt-force trauma – injuries that didn’t match up to the couple’s story.
Police reported Evangelina’s body had livor mortis – discolouration of the skin following death – when they arrived at the family’s home.
Had Wing delayed phoning for help to protect her boyfriend?
Investigations soon revealed that tragic Evangelina had an untreated broken arm. But that was just the start of her catalogue of injuries.
It appeared she’d not been bathed in a while, there was discolouring around her neck, and a lesion on top of her head. Her nose, lips and eyes were swollen. And it was reported there were possibly missing chunks of tissue by her nostrils. The poor tot also had fingernail scratches near her mouth.
And that wasn’t all. The list of injuries seemed to go on and on…Her left arm was bruised and bandaged from shoulder to wrist. She had adult-sized bite marks on every finger. And her right ring finger had a fingernail missing.
The little girl had suffered terribly at the hands of the people who were supposed to be protecting her.
Her older brothers were reportedly also covered in bruises, bite marks and burns.
The townspeople of Seaside were appalled. How on earth could a mother allow her kids to be treated like this? Why hadn’t she sought help for her daughter sooner?
In January last year, Wing appeared in court to face those questions. Initially charged with murder by abuse, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and testified against Roden.
She told the court that she knew she’d messed up and failed to protect her children.
She was sentenced to 15 years and 10 months in prison.
Last October, Roden appeared in court facing over a dozen charges, including murder by abuse and felony murder.
He was already serving an eight-year sentence for violating his probation order.
Roden’s legal team tried to pin the blame for Evangelina’s death on her mother.
They claimed the tot had a serious case of flesh-eating bug MRSA, and argued that her ‘so-called burns’ were actually festering wounds from the infection.
Roden’s defence painted Wing as a mother who was abusive long before Roden moved in. But jurors still believed he was to blame.
He was found guilty of murder by abuse, manslaughter, criminal mistreatment and assault.
Roden avoided the death penalty and was jailed for 35 and a half years.
‘Mr Roden, you are a cruel man,’ Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Paula Brownhill said. ‘If you get out of jail and hurt another child, God have mercy on your soul.’
Roden was given a chance to make a final statement, but chose to say nothing.
No words for the little girl’s life he cruelly cut short…
For Evangelina, though, perhaps the most unjust part was that her own mother did nothing to protect her.