HARRIS COUNTY- On Monday afternoon, a few days after Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly revealed an autopsy had determined 4-year-old Emma Thompson’s death on June 27 was a homicide, the girl’s mother and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the child’s death.
Abigail Elizabeth Young, 33, Emma’s mother; and Lucas Ruric Coe, 27, Young’s boyfriend are charged with first-degree felony injury to a child.
The family resided in Spring, but Emma Thompson died in a Montgomery County hospital because it was the nearest facility available once medical care for her injuries was finally sought.
Representatives of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement at a Monday night press conference in Houston.
Lt. Ralph Nelson, commander of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit introduced the lead investigator on the Thompson case, Detective Anthony “A.J.” Kelly.
Detective Kelly said homicide investigators began their investigation on the day of the child’s death, when they interviewed Young and Coe.
“Speaking with the two caregivers that were present with Emma Thompson at the time of her death, we received several conflicting stories, leading us to believe something was wrong immediately,” Kelly said.
The child’s injuries, when examined at the hospital and later at autopsy, were inconsistent with the statements Young and Coe made to investigators, he said.
Further confirmation was received last Friday when Dr. Patricia Moore, a pathologist with the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Conroe ruled the cause of death as “blunt force abdominal trauma,” which caused internal bleeding and was consistent with a homicide scenario.
Homicide investigators met with representatives from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Kelly said, and determined the best course of action was to charge the pair with first-degree felony injury to a child, which carries a potential life sentence.
Both suspects were arrested at separate locations around 5:45 p.m. on Monday. Coe was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offender Task Force in the Magnolia area of Montgomery County. Kelly said Coe attempted to flee on foot, but was captured. Ironically, Coe was wearing a black graphic t-shirt with a cartoon police car and a panicked looking figure in front of it that read, “It’s all fun and games until the police show up.” Coe might have been smiling when he bought the shirt, but he did not appear to be amused as he was in custody walking from the HCSO Homicide Division to a squad car en route to the Harris County Jail.
Young, a registered nurse, was arrested while on duty at her new job at Trinity Hospital in Brenham. Ironically, when Emma Thompson was murdered, Young was employed as a Labor and Delivery nurse at the Texas Women’s Hospital in Houston. She ducked her head as she passed through a line of cameras and microphones leaving for the jail. Handcuffed and still wearing her hospital scrubs, Young did not respond to any of the reporters’ questions.
Kelly confirmed that Thompson had oral and vaginal herpes. He said he was unable to discuss other particulars such as whether there was intent to kill the child, but he did say there were obvious signs of abuse.
Two other children in the household, one of them Coe’s 4-year-old daughter, are now with relatives. Harris County and Montgomery County Child Protective Services have “open cases on all of the children” that have been around the suspects, Kelly said.
The 19 year veteran officer said the Thompson case was the “toughest” of his career because of the injuries to the child that he saw at the hospital and at the forensic center. Thompson has children of his own.