Samantha Nacole Bryant, a 30-year-old mom in Moore County, North Carolina, was described by one neighbor as “probably one of the most irresponsible people that I have ever met,” was charged earlier this year after her 23-month-old toddler son Rylan Ott wandered nearly a half-mile away from her trailer home, fell into a pond and drowned, according to a report by WNCN TV News.
The case led to protests outside the Moore County Department of Social Services, because the little boy was returned to his Bryant’s custody by a judge last December even though she was on probation for child abuse and under DSS supervision at the time, and a family who had been friends with the little boy’s sister — and had been legally caring for Rylan — desperately tried to convince the judge that Samantha Nacole Bryant was not fit to be a mom.
— FayObserver.com (@fayobserver) August 17, 2016
Four months after District Court Judge Scott C. Etheridge ruled that Bryant had met the minimum standards to get Rylan back from his foster parents, Shane and Amanda Mills, the little boy was dead.
It was on April 14 of this year that Rylan, then just three months away from his second birthday, wandered off unsupervised down a dirt road, a sight that was not unusual according to neighbors who told WRAL TV News that the little boy was often seen alone in Bryant’s yard and would frequently end up in the yards of nearby homes.
The following WNCN News video report contains further details about the horrifying tragedy.
The misdemeanor child abuse charges that cost Bryant custody of Rylan stemmed from an incident that took place on October 25, 2015, according to a report in The Fayetteville Observer newspaper, when the mom who was severely drunk at the time, got into a frightening altercation with her boyfriend, Fort Bragg military police soldier Devin Havis — who was “in full military gear and armed with weapons” sheriff’s deputies reported.
But according to the same reports, Havis had also been drinking — as well as snorting the prescription drug Klonopin, also known as clonazepam, an anti-anxiety and anti-seizure medication that is has also become a widely abused and dangerous recreational drug.
Havis was attempting to give the drug to Bryant’s teenage daughter, Rylan Ott’s older sister. The sister and the little boy hid in a closet during the fight between their mom and her boyfriend, calling 911 from their hiding spot.
When deputies arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon, they seized an AR-15 rifle and .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun — only to be kicked repeatedly by Samantha Bryant.
After the incident, Bryant was “involuntarily committed” to a psychiatric treatment facility due to her “intoxication and violent behavior.” Her children were removed from her custody and placed in foster care.
— Michael Hyland (@MichaelWNCN) August 17, 2016
But after a few days, the Mills family, whose own daughter was friends with Rylan’s older sister, volunteered to take custody of the boy and said that they intended to adopt him.
In November, Bryant believed that she would get her children back at a court hearing. But she did not, at that time, and responded by sending a text message described as a suicide note to her own lawyer.
“She was probably one of the most irresponsible people that I have ever met,” said one neighbor, Julie Ahouse, of Samantha Bryant.
Veronica Aguilar: L.A. Mom Starved 11-Year-Old Son To Death, Horrifying Murder Charge Says — Boy Stuffed In Closet
Jessica Smith: Mom Who Drowned Her 2-Year-Old Girl Avoids Death Penalty, Also Slashed Teen Daughter’s Throat
Katlyn Marin: Mom Murdered Daughter Brielle, Tried Framing Lover Then Ordered Him Killed, Prosecutors Say
Alyssa Garcia: Mom, 27, And Teen Lover Burned Her 4-Year-Old Boy’s Body To Conceal Horrifying Abuse
Rachel Bostian: Friend Helped 5-Year-Old’s Mom Beat Boy To Death Because Child Was Hungry, Charges Say
Brittney Pryce: Mom Who Killed Toddler Nephew In ‘Moment Of Rage’ Now Set To Learn Her Fate After Guilty Verdict
Tami Huntsman: Mom Charged In Horrifying Torture, Murder Of 2 Small Children Will Face Death Penalty
Britney Mayes: Pregnant Mom Held In ‘Blunt Force’ Murder Of Her 4-Year-Old — Got Child Back After Fracturing Girl’s Skull
But in December, over the Mills’ objections as well as the protests of a state-appointed volunteer Guardian Ad Litem Pam Reed, Etheridge ruled that Rylan Ott would be reunited with his mom.
A state investigation of the Moore County DSS, while not focusing specifically on the Rylan Ott case, found that the department suffers a high turnover rate and operates at barely over 50 percent of its full staffing, a condition that could lead to oversights in protecting children from abusive family situations.
Samantha Nacole Bryant was charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse. She is still awaiting trial.
[Image via Moore County Sheriff’s Department, GoFundMe]