10-Year-Old Dies Of Thirst: Parents Withheld Water As Punishment For Wetting Bed

Dallas, TX – Twin Jonathan James, 10, suffered multiple organ failure and blood poisoning (sepsis). He died on July 25, 2011 as a result of severe dehydration. Jonathan’s parents, Michael Ray James, 43, and step-mother Tina Marie Alderson, 44, withheld fluids from him for five straight days. This was meant as a deterrent, punishment for Jonathan’s habitual bedwetting.

Jonathan was made to stand on a drawn X on the kitchen floor in full exposure of the 100 degree sunlight without air conditioning. He was made to eat especially viscous foods without a beverage. When Jonathan collapsed from cardiac arrest, non-responsive, emergency doctors at the Methodist Charlton Medical Center were unable to resuscitate him. The child had been so excessively parched, no trace of fluid was found in his bladder.

Bedwetting (enuresis) is the involuntary urination that may occur day or night. Nocturnal enuresis, the medical name for bedwetting, is a common problem in kids, especially children under the 6 years old. It is extremely common among young kids but can last into the teen years. Bedwetting usually resolves on its own as children can attain control of their bladders at varying ages. Until it does, it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Doctors assure it is a natural part of development, and kids usually grow out of it. Most of the time bedwetting is not a sign of any deeper medical or emotional issues. However, when children are having to cope or endure excessive levels of stress, they can revert to behaviors like bedwetting. Parents are encouraged to instruct their children to drink more fluids during the day and lessen them towards night time hours.

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when the loss of body fluids, water, exceeds the amount that is taken in. We lose water every day in the form of water vapor when we exhale, and as water in our sweat, urine, and stool. Along with the water, small amounts of salts are also lost. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to weakness, dizziness, fainting, seizures, and death.

Jonathan’s step-mother is now on trial accused of a first-degree felony charge of injury to a child. If convicted, Tina could face up to life in prison. His father will face trial next month on the same charge, according to the Daily Mail. Jonathan’s twin brother, Joseph, is expected to testify to the treatment of his sibling in both trials.

The Dallas News reports that the case against Tina Alderson began Tuesday. Prosecutor Marci Curry began proceedings by questioning the ER doctor that attended to the young boy, Dr. David Bryant.

When asked about the two hours that they spent on Jonathan, he replied:

“For practical purposes, yes, he was dead when he arrived. We worked on him for a long time.”

Former Dallas police Deputy Chief Craig Miller, who supervised the investigation, said:

“This was an intentional act of torture of a child by the people who he trusts and confides in the most, his parents.”