REDDING, Calif. - A toddler was killed, suffocating to death, and his father faces murder charges. One Shasta County organization said the practice of reporting could have saved the child's life.
24-year-old Cody Wygant used to live in Redding. He was arrested Thursday April 17 at his home in Citrus County, Florida. Police in Florida said he confessed to suffocating his crying 16-month-old son, Daymeon Wygant, so he could continue playing video games.
Records with the Shasta County Recorder's office indicate the child was born in Redding.
Numerous people who knew Wygant in Shasta County said he had a serious disregard for his child's well-being. A woman, who chose not to be identified, spent time with Cody and Daymeon at a Northstate homeless shelter.
The unnamed woman said she saw Wygant do this practice of putting his hand over the child's mouth on ten separate occasions.
One Shasta County child abuse prevention group said they wish that person would have come forward.
"I wish she had the tools at the time to reach out and report him," said Rachelle Modena of the Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council.
It is a case of persistent alleged child abuse that ended in the death of the young boy.
"I thought oh she must have not known what to do," Modena said. "What do you do when you see that?"
As the council's interim director Modena knows how difficult it can be.
"When you're alone in the world with a child and homeless the stress can be devastating," she said.
Modena sees many cases. 617 Shasta County children experience substantiated child abuse in 2013.
"I wish she had the tools at the time to reach out and report him."
-Rachelle Modena of the Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council.
But she said recognizing the difference between strict parenting and wrongdoing can be tough.
"I always say we are not investigators. But anytime you have that concern know that you can call in to the suspected child abuse hotline," Modena said.
She said the help is there. In the case of Wygant, Modena said recognizing the signs and reaching out could have saved the toddler's life.
"We have professionals on-call 24 hours a day to take that information and to decide whether children and family services needs to be involved or not," she said.
Anonymous reports can be filed. To report suspected child abuse in Shasta County call (530) 225-5144.