‘Victim Not Killer’ Family Say Woman Accused Of Killing Autistic Boy Did Not Do It

Family members of Missouri woman Kimberly Lightwine, a 42-year-old woman charged with the death of her blind and autistic 19-year-old son Austin Anderson, are saying she is not a killer but a victim, the Springfield News Leader is reporting.

Lightwine, who confessed to deputies to be a meth-user, was found by a farmer in a field in Polka County with a broken leg and in her underwear. Her son was found dead, dressed in only a diaper.

Mother and child were found August 29. Investigators say the boy might have died 72 hours earlier. Autopsy reports revealed that the 19-year-old had a swollen brain and died of extreme heat. Anderson had gone into shock because of dehydration and died because his mother did get crucial medication that helped manage his blood sugar levels and the balance of water and salt in his body.

A statement of probable cause used to charge Kimberly Lightwine with second-degree murder and second-degree elder abuse showed she confessed to authorities that she killed her son.

“I just got high and depressed and I killed my kid. I just kept thinking for God to take my baby away from the pain and misery because that’s all I have…It’s my fault, and now you should charge with murder right now…I am not joking.”

However, Stephanie Saloga, Lightwine’s sister, offered a different version of events, saying that her sister made the damning statement when she was high on meth and had since changed her story. According to Saloga, her sister received a call that took her and Anderson to a parking lot where they were kidnapped by three people.

Saloga said that the people, who abducted her sister, drugged Lightwine, beat her up breaking her leg in the process and left both mother and child without their clothes to die in a field. Stephanie Saloga said police misinterpreted what Lightwine meant when she said she had killed her son.

“When she made the comment that she killed her son, she was meaning that she wasn’t able to get up off the ground and care for him and attend to his needs. Anybody who knows my sister knows that she loves that boy more than life itself. She would never, hurt him.”

Stephanie said Lightwine recognized the people that abducted her and her son, but that the rationale behind it remained unclear. However, Stephanie suspected that it could be tied to her sister’s lengthy history of drug use. Saloga said she was frustrated with the Polka County Sheriff’s Office for being flippant at her attempts to give information and slammed people making callous comments about her sister online.

The autistic boy’s aunt, Diana Cope, said authorities were keeping plenty of things close to their chest. She also believed there was more to the story than they were actually revealing.

Cope said Robert Anderson, Austin’s dad, separated from Lightwine when he was still a baby, but saw his son every few weeks and never once complained that the child was abused, adding that Lightwine baby-sat frequently, worked in child-care and thought the world of her son.

“Austin never came to his dad’s home abused. In her right mind she would never harm him—never. Never in a million years.”

Cope corroborated Saloga’s story, saying Lightwine was still under the influence of meth when her testimony was taken. Cope added that when Kimberly Lightwine told her son to “put your hands in front of you for help and God is going to take care of you,” she was telling him to find help.

Cope said Anderson suffered from a lack of muscle growth in one of his knees which made it pop out, making it difficult for him to walk. So when he kept coming back to his mom, Lightwine pushed him away telling him not to love her, but allow God take him. Cope said the police needed to investigate further because the turn of events was baffling, adding that Kimberly’s leg was not broken, but crushed.

[Photo by Polka County Sheriff’s Office/AP Images]

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