BELFAST, Maine — Days after the death of 3-year-old Maddox Williams, his grandmother told detectives that she knew something more was going on with him than a stomachache.
Sherry Johnson also told police that she knew the night of June 20, just hours after Maddox died, that her daughter, Jessica Trefethen, would be arrested at some point. She admitted it was wrong of her to protect her daughter by not telling the police where she was, according to documents filed at the Waldo Judicial Center.
Trefethen, 35, of Stockton Springs, was charged last month with the depraved indifference murder of her son after an autopsy showed he had suffered a fractured spine, bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel and other injuries. Johnson, 59, has been charged with concealing Trefethen’s whereabouts from police.
Both women offered various versions of what happened to Maddox, according to court documents. Trefethen initially told hospital staff that Maddox had been knocked down by a dog leash and kicked by his 8-year-old sister. Later, she told police that he had been knocked down by a puppy and “his tummy hurt,” and that he also fell off a trampoline.
When Johnson was first interviewed by police, she told them her daughter had called her on June 20 and asked her to come over because Maddox wasn’t feeling well and didn’t look very good. But in an interview on June 24, the grandmother told detectives that she knew there was more to the story “than a stomachache,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed in late June by Detective Sgt. Christopher Tremblay of the Maine State Police.
Johnson’s charge of hindering apprehension stemmed from her allegedly misinforming the Maine State Police for several days about her daughter’s whereabouts. On June 20, she told detectives that after Maddox was declared dead at a Belfast hospital, her daughter was distraught and wanted to be alone. Johnson said she dropped Trefethen off at the pier in Searsport and told police she didn’t know where her daughter went after that.
Since police were concerned that Trefethen might harm herself, they requested the location of her phone and found that it was last in Stockton Springs. However, police couldn’t find her using that information.
The next day, Johnson again told police that hadn’t heard from or seen her daughter since she had dropped her off at the pier. But footage from a surveillance camera at Johnson’s house showed that Trefethen was there.
Johnson eventually told police she never dropped Trefethen off at the pier in Searsport. Instead, the women drove to Bucksport and then returned to Johnson’s home in Stockton Springs. Still, when police came to her house on June 23, Johnson continued to deny she knew where her daughter was.
“When asked by the detectives if they could look inside the residence, Sherry admitted Jessica was inside,” Tremblay wrote.
Johnson’s lawyer, Steve Smith of Augusta, did not immediately return a call Wednesday afternoon.
Johnson’s bail for the Class B crime was set at $2,000 cash and has been posted. She is next due to appear in court on Tuesday, Aug. 10.