"She's the kind of mother who sacrificed for her children, she's gone without herself to try and provide for them. No one who has known her can believe she would have allowed this to happen."
That is how Doris Seddell described her daughter, Deborah Tuinman, who is in jail to face charges that she and her husband abandoned her 7-year-old son at a rest stop on I-84 near Boise last week.Seddell told the Deseret News that she, like everyone else, can only wait as the pieces are put together in a puzzle that involves her grandson, three other grandchildren placed into foster care in Utah, and her daughter and son-in-law being arrested on charges of abandoning the boy, theft of services in Sandy and carrying a loaded gun in their vehicle.
Edward Donald Tuinman, 29, and his wife, Deborah, 28, were arrested about 11 a.m. Saturday just south of Nephi by Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Pelton after a statewide broadcast of a vehicle description in connection with a Sandy theft of services warrant. Pelton said he stopped the vehicle and arrested the couple without incident. Traveling with them were three other children and Mrs. Tuinman's brother who was following in another vehicle.
Edward Tuinman Jr., who doctors say appears to be developmentally delayed, was found Wednesday afternoon wearing only a T-shirt and suffering from bruises and burn marks. The boy was taken to a Boise Hospital, where he was treated for exposure and malnutrition. He has been at the hospital since. Though unable to speak, Edward has made sounds and has responded to the kind treatment by the hospital staff, officials said. For three days he was known only as Johnny Doe.
An outpouring of public sympathy greeted news accounts of the abandoned boy's plight. Donations of money, toys and offers of foster care swamped the hospital.
It was not until the couple was arrested in Utah that the boy's identity was learned. Officials have not indicated how identification was obtained, however.
Seddell said her only contact with her daughter has been two telephone calls and both centered on the need for a lawyer. She said her daughter has not discussed the Idaho incident.
"I'm kind of in the dark. I don't really know what has happened," Seddell said. "I just know that this is not the way Debbie would act. Her kids meant everything to her."
Seddell said the Tuinmans had been in Washington the past three months seeking work. Mrs. Tuinman's brother was also in Washington and, while they had contact, they had not been living together. The brother did travel back to Utah with the couple in a car caravan but was unaware the young boy was left behind, his mother said. The group did not contact Seddell while in Salt Lake en route to Arizona where the brother and Tuinman had jobs waiting.
But, the group never got past Nephi.
The brother was not arrested in connection with the incident but he declined to talk to the Deseret News.
The Tuinmans were booked into the Salt Lake County jail late Saturday night on fugitive warrants out of Idaho in connection with Edward's abandonment and on local felony warrants out of Sandy for theft of services. Those allegations accuse the couple of illegally taking natural gas from Mountain Fuel Supply between last April and June. They failed to appear at a Sept. 1 preliminary hearing in Fifth Circuit Court, Sandy, and a $1,000 arrest warrant was issued.
After the couple's arrest near Nephi, a loaded gun was found in their vehicle and a misdemeanor citation was issued, Pelton said.
Utah officials are expected to file formal charges against the couple in connection with the Sandy warrant on Monday while Idaho police pursue an extradition order. That effort is expected to take several days. A 3rd Circuit Court clerk said arraignment on fugitive warrants and the Sandy warrants will likely occur Tuesday unless the Tuinmans waive their extradition rights. Idaho detectives were in Salt Lake City on Sunday investigating the case.
Seddell said she talked Saturday with one of the Idaho detectives but had received little insight concerning the abandonment. incident.
She plans to contact state social service officials Monday concering 11-month-old Michael, 6-year old Matthew, and 9-year-old Lisa, who were taken into state custody Saturday. She said she wants to resolve that custody issue before contacting Idaho officials concerning Edward's custody.
Officials refused to comment on whether the other children appeared to have been abused.