WEST VALLEY CITY — A man has been arrested after police say he abused his girlfriend and her 5-year-old son.
Justin Boyce, 32, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of intentional child abuse, aggravated assault, domestic violence in the presence of a child, child endangerment and a restricted person in possession of a weapon.
A family member of the woman called West Valley City police on July 25 to go to her residence at the American Mobile Home Park near 3100 S. Redwood Road. The mother and her boyfriend of three years, Boyce, had been arguing that night, West Valley Police Sgt. Jason Hauer said.
Hauer said the couple had reportedly been fighting often the past two to three weeks.
When officers arrived, Boyce was gone, but they found a 5-year-old boy with bruises all over his face and marks on his neck consistent with strangulation, Hauer said.
The boy told officers that Boyce had also hit him with an open hand several times, causing his nose to drip blood, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report. The boy was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center, where doctors determined he was also suffering from bleeding on the brain and other injuries to his ribs, arms and back in different stages of healing, he said.
The mother also showed signs of being a victim of domestic violence. However, Hauer said, she was initially very uncooperative with detectives, yelling at them to get out of her house and initially not allowing them to look at her child, Hauer said. An investigation into whether she also contributed to some of the boy's abuse was ongoing Thursday.
She later told police Boyce had strangled her after the two had an argument about how to discipline her child, according to the jail report.
"Justin grabbed a hold of her throat, pinned her against the ground, keeping her from breathing and causing her to see 'stars' on two occasions that evening," according to the report.
Investigators found Boyce on Thursday and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail. Hauer said it was unclear how long the alleged abuse had been taking place.
Boyce told police he slept at night with a knife taped to his hand to protect his family from any potential home invasion, according to the jail report. He isn't allowed to possess a weapon due to a prior conviction.
Among the charges in his lengthy criminal history, Boyce pleaded guilty in 2012 to disorderly conduct and intoxication, according to Utah court records. In 2010, he was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and drug possession. In 2006, he was convicted of attempted drug possession with intent to distribute.