Abuse charges

Child abuse and neglect charges have been filed against a West Plains man after he allegedly spanked a child hard enough to leave bruises on two separate occasions.

A warrant has been issued for Tristan Evan Vanwinkle, 27, East Main Street, and bond is set at $5,000. He is charged with two counts of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Neither set of charges involves sexual contact.

The investigation into the allegations began Sept. 15 after a Division of Family Services caseworker requested police accompaniment to Vanwinkle’s home in response to a report of child abuse. There, the caseworker reportedly showed Officer Conner Burnes photos that allegedly showed bruises on the child’s buttocks.

When Burnes and the caseworker arrived at the home, Burnes reported the child’s mother said the child told her the bruises had come from a fall on the playground at school, but also told the caseworker the bruises weren’t consistent with a those from a fall.

The mother allegedly told the caseworker both she and Vanwinkle discipline the children in the home, with their hands, but denied knowing whether or not the bruises had come from the child being spanked with a hand.  

The child was interviewed twice at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). During the first interview, according to court records, the child reported being struck multiple times by Vanwinkle, with his hand. A forensic examination showed bruising on the child’s lower back, buttocks and thighs.

During the second interview the child reported having been struck multiple times by Vanwinkle with his hand, a belt, a shoe and a spatula, the records show. The CAC worker who examined the child that day noted the appearance of a cluster of bruising on the child’s right buttock consistent with the child’s statement of being struck multiple times.

The child also reportedly had infections in both ears.   

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