Adoptive dad Jerry Matthews and mom Deidre were named Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Adoptive Parents of the Year in 2006. But on Wednesday of this week, Jerry Matthews agreed to testify against his wife in a horrifying child abuse case involving monkeys who bite children, a dog cage prison, and a home filled with exotic animals — and their feces.
But by turning against his now-estranged wife, Jerry Matthews of Jay, Oklahoma, avoided spending the rest of his life behind bars. On Wednesday, July 7, he was slapped with a life sentence after pleading no contest to the multiple child abuse and neglect charges, according to a report in The Grand Lake News newspaper.
Jerry Matthews, 65, will remain free, however, because in exchange for his testimony against his 48-year-old estranged wife, Deidre — formerly of Jay, but now living in Independence, Missouri — Delaware County, Oklahoma, District Attorney Kenny Wright recommended that the whole life sentence be suspended, and a judge agreed.
Jerry Matthews makes plea, receives suspended life sentence in child neglect case – in exchange for testifying… https://t.co/HNZcgCmkyB
— Grove Sun (@grovesun) July 7, 2016
Deidre Matthews is due back in court on July 25 and could now face a life sentence herself for the crimes she is accused of committing against the nine children in her care.
And to make the stomach-churning case even more infuriating, one of those children has filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, according to Courthouse News. The lawsuit names several Delaware County DHS workers and Deidre and Jerry Matthews themselves — claiming that someone in the DHS tipped off Deidre and Jerry before visits by DHS inspectors who were sent to their home on 17 different occasions to investigate abuse reports.
According to a police affidavit, as well as allegations in the lawsuit, the Matthews kept a menagerie of animals including “11 lemurs, marmosets, coatimundis, raccoons, donkeys and other animals,” and would punish the children by allowing monkeys to bite them, often severely.
After one extremely deep monkey bite, the lawsuit alleges, Deidre Matthews refused to take the victimized child, identified only by the initials G.M., to a doctor for treatment.
Instead, Deidre Matthews, who has no medical training, “gave G.M. at least six shots of a veterinary grade nerve block to deaden the affected area and then stitched up the wound using the needles and string that she used to perform C-sections on dogs.”
Other forms of punishment inflicted by Deidre Matthews, the police affidavit says, included stabbing an 8-year-old repeatedly with a diabetic needle, after the child found a discarded syringe and pretended to give herself a shot.
On another occasion, an 8-year-old was badly bitten on the face by a dog, and rather than take the child to a doctor, Deidre again attempted to stitch the wound by herself. Eventually, in that case, she did take the child for proper medical treatment.
She would also lock one of her adopted daughters in a dog cage overnight, because she said that she could not control the child otherwise.
Jerry Matthews disapproved of locking the girl in the cage, but did nothing to stop it because, according to the affidavit, he felt that when his wife “got something into her mind, there was no reasoning with her, so he just went along with it.”
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Children were also beaten to the point of bleeding, then held out of school until their injuries were no longer visible, and often starved of food and water for days at a time, the affidavit said.
Jerry Matthews will remain on supervised probation for life, and is no longer permitted to be around children.
“These children suffered horrific abuse at the hands of Jerry and Deidre Matthews,” said attorney Darren Cook, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the children. “DHS let down these children. They were to protect the children, and for whatever reason, they alerted the Matthews.”
[Featured Photos via Delaware County Sheriff’s Department]