A Colorado couple turned themselves in on Tuesday after a coroner examination concluded that his son died of forced water intoxication, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
Zachary Sabin, 11, died on March 11 after his father Ryan and stepmother Tara forced him to drink four 24-ounce bottles of water within a four-hour span without eating.
Tara told deputies that Zachary had a hereditary urological issue that caused him to wet the bed. After once noticing that his urine was dark, she and Ryan made him drink two 32-ounce bottles of water every day.
The night before he died, Ryan recalls seeing Zachary drinking water and throwing it up. As the rest of the family ate dinner, Ryan advised Zachary to chug it like he used to do in the Army because "he was drinking the water too slowly and getting air in his stomach which caused the water to sit on top of it."
At around 9 p.m., Zachary started to throw a tantrum on the floor of the kitchen, and complain to his father about the pain in his legs. Ryan first tried kicking Zachary twice to force him up. Eventually, his father picked Zachary up and dropped him back on the floor, causing his son to bang his head. Ryan resorted to taking him outside with the hope that the cold air would “snap Zachary out of his tantrum.”
Before Ryan was able to put his son to bed at around 11:15 p.m., Zachary was walking around the kitchen grunting and making unintelligible noises. One of the other five children noticed Zachary throw up at least 10 times throughout the night.
Ryan called 911 around 6:15 a.m. after seeing Zachary foaming from the mouth with blood on his bed.
The coroner also found blood on the child’s forehead and left eyebrow, in addition to bruises on his head, arm, rear end, and shin. The other children, between the ages of 2 and 15, were noted in the affidavit as victims of abuse.
Colorado Department of Human Services, which investigates child abuse and neglect, had previously been called about the Sabin household, but the agency wouldn’t disclose what they did in response to the complaint.
Ryan and Tara have been charged with first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, and six counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
Zachary’s biological mother Angela Tuetken, who arranged to take care of him every other week, describes her son as an avid reader who could complete a book in a week. Ever since he was a little, Tuetken says Zachary dreamed of being either a veterinarian or zoologist.