Prosecutors: Boy allegedly killed, tortured by parents was beaten, had gangrene in toe

Kara Berg
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Detroit couple has been charged with murder, torture and child abuse in connection with the death of their 5-year-old son and abuse of their 3-year-old son, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

The boys' parents, Shane Robert Shelton, 27, and Valeria Lynn Hamilton, 27, both of Detroit, allegedly abused both children, according to a press release from the prosecutor's office.

Ethan Belcher, 5, was pronounced dead Jan. 22 after medics took him to the hospital, according to a press release. Police were sent to the home Ethan was taken from in the 14660 block of Spring Garden Street that same afternoon and saw medics taking Ethan away.

Shane Shelton (left) and Valeria Hamilton

His 3-year-old brother had bruises on his head and face, and was also taken to the hospital for treatment, according to the press release.

Ethan had bruises in the shape of loops on his body and multiple abrasions, indicating an object like a cord was used to make the marks, Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Makepeace said during Shelton and Hamilton's arraignments. Makepeace said he saw photos from the medical examiner that showed gangrene on one of Ethan's toes, which was rotting and black.

Makepeace said other kids in the home told investigators Shelton and Hamilton would beat them and force them to remain in the basement of the house, which was filled with sewage water and feces. Makepeace said calling the home a house was "generous" and described it as somewhere between an abandoned home and a construction site.

He referred to texts between Shelton and Hamilton, where Shelton called the kids "mother (expletives)" and told Hamilton to "beat the dog (expletive) out of that (expletive)." In one text, Hamilton said she would "slam their kids so hard their heads will pop off," Makepeace said.

During her arraignment, Hamilton cried and shook her head as Makepeace spoke. Shelton was not shown on the screen.

Shelton and Hamilton were both charged with felony murder, two counts of first-degree child abuse, torture and conspiracy to commit torture.

Wayne County Magistrate Joseph Boyer said the allegations were "quite disturbing." Out of concern for the safety of the other children, Boyer remanded Shelton and Hamilton to the Wayne County Jail.

"The alleged facts in this case are extremely alarming. The evidence will come out in court," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a press release.