Weakley, Burge arrested for alleged abuse, neglect of twin daughters

Steve Chapman

Sean Burge

Laura Weakley

Less than a year old, siblings have numerous broken bones at various stages of healing; parents in Law. Co. Jail
A former Lawrence County couple was arrested after their twin daughters were discovered to have numerous broken bones at various stages of healing. Laura Weakley and her “paramour,” Sean Burge, both now of Brookline, are currently being held without bond in the Lawrence County Jail. Weakley, 22, was booked into the jail on Saturday, May 2, while Burge, 20, was arrested and booked into the jail on Wednesday, May 6. Both are charged with two counts of abuse or neglect of a child, a Class A felony in Missouri.
Girls inspected for injuries
According to the probable cause statement in the case, Weakley and Burge took one of their daughters to a hospital on Feb. 3 for a bump on her left forearm; tests found fractures on the radius and ulna bones on her left arm. At the time, the couple lived with their daughters in Wentworth.
The hospital requested that Weakley and Burge bring their other daughter in for testing as well. Tests found that both girls had various fractures in various states of healing; one girl had 13 injuries, including:   buckle fractures, lateral (rib) fractures, transverse fractures and a “distal tibia classic metaphyseal lesion.” The other girl had seven lateral fractures. The twin girls are under the age of one.
Weakley was interviewed about the girls’ injuries on April 20, and Burge was interviewed on April 21. According to the probable cause statement, written by an investigator for the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team (MSTAT), they said the injuries were due to Osteopenia of Prematurity, or a low bone-mass condition.
A doctor’s findings
According to the probable cause statement, the MSTAT investigator reported that testing on the girls failed to reveal any diseases or conditions which would predispose them to fragile bones, and that skeletal surveys on the girls showed good mineralization and robust healing, and the girls had not suffered any more fractures while in foster care.
The investigator reported that Dr. Douglas Beal, a medical consultant for MSTAT, said it would have been impossible for the girls to inflict the injuries on themselves. He also said Dr. Beal explained what would have caused the girls’ injuries. He said transverse fractures are caused when a limb is struck with an object, or someone is thrown. Lateral fractures occur whenever there is direct impact or from compressive force from squeezing. Buckle fractures are caused by being thrown down or slammed against a hard surface, or having an extremity bent backwards. Finally, a distal tibia classic metaphyseal lesion can be caused by yanking, pulling, twisting or shaking, which Dr. Beal said is “highly suggestive of abuse.”
The investigator stated that Dr. Beal said the injuries the girls had “would have been painful and any reasonable parent would have known something was wrong and sought timely medical care.” The investigator also said Dr. Beal viewed the injuries as “non-accidental trauma,” and he viewed the girls as “battered infants who were injured on more than one occasion.”
The investigator also said the girls’ skeletal surveys “clearly display these infants were in pain and also had the fractures for an extended period of time,” and that Weakley and Burge “failed to seek medical care (for the girls) in a timely manner.” He also said, based on genetic testing and bone health labs analyzed by Dr. Beal, it is impossible that Osteopenia of Prematurity, caused the girls’ injuries, contrary to Weakley and Burge’s explanation.
Burge and Weakley are scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, May 28.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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