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Chris Toth Briefs Press

Aired September 21, 2002 - 19:33   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center.
This breaking news, the mother seen in that disturbing videotape in Indiana is now in police custody. Her attorney is now speaking in Mishawaka, Indiana. Let's listen in.

CHRIS TOTH, PROSECUTOR: ... and that interview lasted approximately one hour and is now complete. She since has been taken to the county jail, where she is being booked a processed there.

We are very, very pleased and very happy that the 4-year-old little girl is safe. That was our goal from the start, administration we are very encouraged that the right thing was done here, that she was returned and that she in fact is safe and is being taken care of by medical personnel at this point.

I just have a few points here. Mishawaka police detectives and Mishawaka police department did an absolutely outstanding job with this case, and I want to extol their efforts. What they did with this was superb. They worked their hearts out, and they really worked hard for this little girl to make sure she was safe.

So I wanted to thank Chief Hazen, Chief Sandt (ph), and the entire Mishawaka Police Department for their wonderful work in this case.

Secondly, we want to thank all of you. With your help, the mother, I think, very much was encouraged to seek an attorney, and in fact turn herself in.

And as we said all along, our entire goal, our entire priority here was to make that little girl was returned safe, and that we were able to ensure that she continued to be safe. And that was accomplished, so we're very, very happy about that.

At this time, we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

QUESTION: What's the emotional state of the mother?

TOTH: Well, I think, as you can imagine, all the family members, including the mother, are fairly disturbed about the events that occurred. They're not necessarily happy with the situation. But we as prosecutors and police officers have a job to do, and part of that job involves the prosecution of the person who did this. So charges were filed, obviously she is not going to be happy about that. But she in fact, with the assistance of her attorney, did cooperate, and we're encouraged by that.

QUESTION: Where's the little girl going to be staying?

TOTH: What's that?


TOTH: Right now, Child Protective Services is handling the situation with Martha. They will be making the decisions about where she goes and how she's cared for in the interim.


TOTH: As we speak, Child Protective Services is in charge of Martha's fate at this time.

QUESTION: But do you know whether she'll be removed from the home, or whether she will be with family (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

TOTH: What I can say is, at this time Child Protective Services has indicated that Martha will temporarily be placed with another family until C.P.S. can figure out if there is another family member of the Toogood family who can take care of her. It's -- part of that is that the family member has to have ties to the community.

We're going to have to see how that develops. But that will be Child Protective Services' determination.


QUESTION: Has the mother ever admitted to doing this in the past, or hurting other children?

TOTH: One, one, one thing about the interview, the interview is evidence, it is a pending case, so I'm not going to discuss any of the contents of the interview.

QUESTION: Without discussing the contents, could you give us an idea as to how cooperative the mother is being with you?

TOTH: The mother agreed to be interviewed. She waived her rights. Her attorney was present and consented to that. And so she in fact was interviewed for approximately one hour.


QUESTION: ... what's her demeanor, what's her demeanor?


TOTH: At this time, Martha will be with a family in the St. Joseph County Community other than her blood relatives. QUESTION: What will happen to her other children?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), what is her demeanor and well being at this point?

QUESTION: What about her other children?

TOTH: I'm sorry, what...

QUESTION: What about her other children?

TOTH: ... one question at a time, it's real...

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) describe her physical well-being at this point? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

TOTH: Martha, Martha's physical well-being? Martha appears to be a sweet little girl. There were no visible signs of any injuries. She was brought into the police station. Obviously she's a 4-year-old girl, she's going to be a little concerned about everything going on around her.

She seems to be happy. We gave her a Happy Meal, and she seemed to be enjoying that. And we hope that this whole thing will go by with the least physical and emotional trauma for her.


TOTH: No, there was no sign of physical trauma. Remember, though, we're not doctors, and we're just giving you a layman's observation, so that determination will be made by medical personnel.

QUESTION: What's going to happen to her other children?

QUESTION: What's the mother's demeanor? What's the mother's demeanor?

TOTH: The mother's demeanor, I'll just say obviously the mother is concerned about her fate at this time. And I tell you what, I understand that her attorney will talk to you, and that's probably more of his province to discuss what the demeanor of his client is.


TOTH: I'm sorry. I'm not sure. I know he did, he did indicate that he was planning on talking to you.



QUESTION: What's the other children, what's at hand for them?

QUESTION: ... this is all over, Chris?

TOTH: Sorry? QUESTION: How relieved are you that this is all over?

TOTH: What we are really relieved about is that Martha is in good hands and she's safe. That was our concern. Everybody saw the video, most of America saw the video, you saw the video. That's very, very disturbing. It's sickening when you see a child being treated like that, and you want to get that child back as soon as possible, make sure the child's safe, and that is -- and the child is in good hands.

And that is the situation with the child right now.

QUESTION: What's going to happen to her other children?

QUESTION: What happens with the other two kids?

TOTH: Actually, our understanding from the defense attorney is that she has two other children, and Child Protective Services will be looking in and evaluating that situation.

QUESTION: What is the charges filed, and was there any (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

TOTH: The charges filed against the mother were battery against a child, which is a class D felony. And in terms of plea bargaining or anything like that, that's something that we as prosecutors ethically can't go into. At this point, any of that is premature anyway.

The main goal today was to get Martha back safe and sound, continue the investigation. That was done. The investigation will continue even now, after the mother's in custody. And the court proceedings will take their course.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) question (UNINTELLIGIBLE) why, speculation that something actually happened inside of the store, what had unfolded, why there was such an explosive moment. Has that been clarified at all to you guys?

TOTH: Well, we discussed that earlier. Nothing justifies treating a child like that. We have no indications that there was anything that on any level could have justified that.

QUESTION: She feel any remorse for beating her child like that?

TOTH: Once again, that gets into the contents of the interview, and that would be inappropriate for us to discuss that at this time.

QUESTION: Was she crying during this interview?

TOTH: Once again, same answer. That's part of the evidence of this case. And it would not be appropriate for us to discuss it.

QUESTION: Can you -- and this is a dumb question, but I want to ask you to clear something up. There were some reports that she actually walked into the police station and was not in the SUV (UNINTELLIGIBLE) garage.

TOTH: I'll let the police chief answer that.

CHIEF ANTHONY HAZEN, MISHAKAWA POLICE: She was in fact in one of the SUVs that came into the car. We met them off site here. The attorney and Mrs. Toogood was in one vehicle, the father of the daughter and the police officers were in the second vehicle.

QUESTION: Were you told to go to a location? Was there some drop-off or meeting point that you were asked to go to?

HAZEN: No, we actually asked them to meet us off-site.

QUESTION: Where did you meet?

HAZEN: We met somewhere off the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: Was it part of an -- any agreement that she be kept inside the van and driven inside the building? Was that part of the agreement that you made with her in order for her to turn herself in?

TOTH: Once again, once again, it's very important to remember, there were no negotiations to be had here. We had a situation where a child was treated in a, in a, in a, in an abhorrent manner, and our only concern was getting the child back. So there were going to be no deals in regards to how she was going to be turned over.

Her attorney did the right thing. He arranged to have her brought in. And that was kind of the beginning and the end of it. We just had discussions with him about when and where she was going to turn herself over. But there was no negotiations or no deal as to how that was going to proceed, other than where and when.


WHITFIELD: Police investigators in Mishawaka, Indiana, saying a 26-year-old mother did the right thing by turning herself in and bringing along with her 4-year-old daughter, who everyone remembers seeing over the past couple of days, a surveillance videotape that showed the mother appearingly to be beating her child in the back seat of a parking lot in -- of a department store.

Madelyne Gorman Toogood turned herself in. Apparently her 4- year-old daughter, Martha, is said to be in good condition. The police investigators say she appears to be OK, but of course Child Protective Services continues to look over and examine the little girl, and then they will determine whether the child will be taken to another family member or perhaps to another family altogether.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta.


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