Polk couple arrested after disturbing death of boy, 2

Polk County

A Polk County couple faces charges in connection with the death of a 2-year-old child.

26-year-old Shannon Short and her boyfriend 26-year-old Christian Thompson lived with Harley Don Hiatt Jr. at a home in Davenport.

Detectives say the boy was Short’s son and would have been three years-old in October.

“When you hear what this precious baby boy was put through, it’s sickening. His mother knew about the abuse, allowed it, and continued to leave him in the care of his abuser. She and her boyfriend even joked about it. The whole thing is heartbreaking, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to be more disgusted by their actions, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

According to arrest affidavits, on the morning of July 31, at about 3:01 a.m., the PCSO Emergency Communications Center received a call about an unresponsive toddler. The child was transported to Heart of Florida Hospital, where medical staff determined he had a brain bleed. 

The child, Harley Hiatt, Jr., was pronounced deceased at 6:55 a.m.

Visible bruising on his face, and a rash on his left arm and leg were noted.  When asked, Short stated that these marks were from Friday, July 27 when she left Harley in the care of her boyfriend, Thompson, while she was at work in Kissimmee. 

She said that Harley has suffered multiple injuries during the past two months, while she was at work and being watched by Thompson. 

Thompson texted her after the injuries occurred, stating such things as he was disciplining the child by hitting him with a belt. 

Detectives reviewed the text messages, including responses by Short such as “omg what did u do to my baby?” The various injuries included facial bruising, an injury to the boy’s penis, and a through and through wound on his bottom lip. 

One text in June from Thompson said, “um ya son tryna kill hisself” referring to injuries the child incurred. Thompson explained the injuries as occurring when the child climbed on things and “fell” or pulled things down onto himself, such as a hot plate. 

On July 23, Short called 911 and had the child transported to Heart of Florida Hospital because he had not opened his eyes for two days. 

She then expressed to Thompson via text message, “I think they calling CPS on me I think they bout to try to take Harley.”

On July 27, Thompson sent her a text with a photo while she was at work, of the child’s face, saying that the boy scratched himself. When she got home and looked for herself, she said it didn’t look like scratches – it looked like welt marks that would happen if he had been hit in the face with a belt. 

On July 28 and 29, Short said the child was not acting like himself, and clinging to her. She said he did not have a fever and was not vomiting.

On July 30, Short woke up around 11:00 a.m. and gave the child some juice, then laid down with him until around 4:15 p.m., at which time she got a ride from Lyft to Amscot to cash a check, leaving the victim with Thompson. She then went to Publix to buy groceries, and texted a friend to ask if the friend had any weed for sale.

When she got home, she found Harley lying on the floor, with vomit nearby and vomit on the bed. She put him on the bed then went outside to smoke a cigarette. She decided not to seek medical attention because she was afraid DCF would be called.

 Around 6:15 p.m. she gave Harley some ibuprofen and antibiotics, and left him with Thompson to go purchase and smoke marijuana at a friend’s house. 

Around 9:30 p.m., Short returned home, and found the victim moaning as if in pain, holding his stomach, and kicking his legs. He was dry heaving. She attempted to give him a bath but was concerned his face would go underwater, since he kept doubling over in pain. She gave him more ibuprofen and antibiotics, then laid him down in the bedroom so she and Thompson could go in the living room to smoke marijuana. 

At 3:00 a.m. on July 31, Harley’s eyes rolled back into his head, and he became limp and unresponsive. Short then called 911.

During an autopsy, Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Nelson noted numerous bruises on Harley’s face and forehead, consistent with being struck by a belt. There was a scar below his bottom lip, and scratches on his nose and forehead. His bowel was lacerated, causing an infection called peritonitis, and several areas of hemorrhage in his skull and within his brain. The bowel laceration and cerebral hemorrhage were the result of blunt force trauma. 

Dr. Nelson stated the peritonitis was consistent with an injury occurring two or three days prior to the July 30 symptoms being present, and that Harley would have survived if medical treatment had been sought on July 30. 

Harley’s cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma, and the manner of death homicide. 

Christian Thompson has been charged with:

  • First Degree Murder (F-C)
  • Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (F-1)
  • Aggravated Child Abuse (F-1)
  • Negligent Child Abuse (F-2)
  • Possession of Marijuana (M-1)
  • Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1) 

Shannon Short has been charged with:

  • Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (F-1)
  • Negligent Child Abuse with Great Bodily Harm (F-2)
  • Child Abuse (F-3)
  • Failure to Report Child Abuse (F-3)
  • Possession of Marijuana (M-1)
  • Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1) 
  • VOP (Petit Theft) (M-1)

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