Mother, boyfriend jailed for murder in toddler's death

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A Wichita mother and her boyfriend are jailed for murder and child abuse after the woman's 2-year-old son died in an alleged case of child abuse.

Police arrested 22-year-old Elizabeth Woolheater and 25-year-old Lucas Diel for attempted first-degree murder on Friday. After the boy died, the attempted murder charges were amended to first-degree murder. Bond was set at $250,000 each.

The child, identified as Anthony Bunn, was hospitalized in critical condition after emergency crews responded Friday morning to the report that the child wasn’t breathing at a home in the 800 block of Woodrow. EMS arrived, took over CPR and noticed injuries to Anthony's head and face.

Lt. Jeff Gilmore said Anthony suffered severe head trauma that was inflicted by Woolheater and Diel.

The boy died shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday. It's the second child abuse death in Wichita this year.

There was a child abuse investigation conducted at the home in October of 2017, but there was not sufficient evidence for charges, Lt. Gilmore said.

Sara Eli dated Lucas Diel for a year in 2015, but says she broke it off due to Diel's frequent drug use and controlling behavior.

When she heard that he and Woolheater were booked in the Sedgwick County Jail, she was initially shocked. But she says after recalling the time she brought her friend's son around, that feeling changed.

"Then whenever he was playing, he played with him like he was an adult," Eli said.

Neighbor Nicholas Yokom went to high school with both Elizabeth and Lucas, and they can't believe what happened. 

"I was real shocked when I first got home," Yokom said. "When I pulled up, all the vehicles were here already and then I saw nobody was outside at this point. And then I saw a bunch of people come out and grab the stretcher and pull it inside and saw them put Lucas in the cop car and she (Woolheater) was sitting in the driveway crying." 

Yokom says Woolheater seemed like a good mom and doesn't believe she'd hurt her son.

"Maybe she knows something and is just not cooperating because she likes Lucas too much." 

Kansas Department of Corrections records show Diel has prior convictions on two counts of criminal threat.

Anthony's death was Wichita's 19th homicide of 2018.


Previous story:

Wichita police say a 3-year-old boy is unresponsive after he was found injured and not breathing at a home in Riverside. 

Officers were called just after 7:30 a.m. Friday to the report of a child not breathing in the 800 block of Woodrow Street, near Murdock and Amidon. Sgt. Troy Nedbalek said the child's grandmother was performing CPR when they arrived on scene. His mother and her boyfriend were also in the home.

The boy was hospitalized in critical condition. He remained unresponsive, Sgt. Nedbalek said at around 10:30 a.m.

Nedbalek said the boy had injuries and the story police were getting didn't add up. The mother, boyfriend and grandmother were taken downtown for questioning. 

Additional information was not immediately available. Check back for updates.

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