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Police say woman used cold showers to punish boy who suffered hypothermia

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — Police arrested an Idaho Falls woman Monday after she allegedly forced a boy to take a cold shower until he went into hypothermia.

Ashlynn Richardson Bryner, 24, is charged with felony injury to a child after an ambulance rushed the 7-year-old to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center on Sept. 14. Court records obtained by EastIdahoNews.com show the boy had been forced into the cold shower as punishment.

Idaho Falls Police Department began investigating the incident when medical staff at EIRMC suspected the boy had been abused. The boy has a long-term, terminal illness, according to court records. EMS personnel who responded to Bryner’s home reported finding the boy had a body temperature of 71.8 degrees. Due to “profound hypothermia,” the boy was placed into the pediatric intensive care unit, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Bryner gave investigators multiple accounts of what happened. According to court records, Bryner said she has regularly used a cold shower as punishment for the boy wetting the bed.

The boy’s condition leaves him with limited verbal abilities, and he requires constant supervision as he struggles to walk without falling or eat without choking.

Bryner said that on the day she called 911, the boy had had multiple bedwetting accidents, causing her to become more upset than ever before.

The exact sequence of events that led to authorities being called isn’t clear. A neighbor told investigators she woke up early that morning to the sound of running water, loud screaming from the boy and Bryner yelling “stop it,” according to police.

Ashlynn Richardson
Ashlynn Richardson Bryner | Bonneville County Jail

The neighbor went downstairs to the apartment below because the boy “did not sound OK.” The woman estimated the shower had been going for 15 to 20 minutes. The neighbor talked to Bryner for 15 minutes and said she could hear the child whimpering in the bathroom.

Bryner gave multiple versions of what happened after the neighbor went back upstairs. In one version of events, Bryner said the shower was hot the entire time, but then in others talked about leaving the boy in the chilling water. She also said she found the boy cold, stiff and unconscious inside the shower, but later said the boy was fine in the shower, and he become cold and stiff afterward.

Regardless of what happened, court records show Bryner called 911 about the child’s condition.

In addition to hypothermia, police reports show EIRMC staff found multiple bruises on the boy’s forehead and shoulder, and he had a swollen lip.

The boy has since been released from the hospital.

Police were familiar with Bryner after getting called to her house on Sept. 10. According to a probable cause affidavit, officers found Bryner and her wife with marks on their bodies. Both women gave conflicting statements, and both were cited with misdemeanor domestic battery. Charges were ultimately dropped Sept. 23 after prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to move forward with the case.

The injury to a child charge was filed Nov. 22.

Bryner made her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon over video from the Bonneville County Jail. Bryner asked Magistrate Judge Stephen Clark to release her to pre-trial services, but he declined to do so and kept bail at $7,500.

Although Bryner is accused of a crime it does not necessarily mean she committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14.

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