STRUTHERS - A man who police say raped and killed his girlfriend's 14-year-old son ran a virtual ''boot camp'' inside their home, according to detectives.
Zaryl Bush, 43, of Creed Street, is in the Mahoning County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond after being arraigned in Municipal Court on Wednesday on charges of murder and rape for the death of Teddy Foltz, who died Monday at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.
After Bush was arraigned, Foltz's mother, Shain Widdersheim, was arrested on charges of complicity to rape, complicity to murder, obstructing official business and tampering with evidence. She is expected to be arraigned Friday.
Detectives Jeff Lewis and Ray Greenwood said that for the last three years, Bush had cut Foltz and his mother off from the outside world and from the prying eyes of strangers.
''This kid did not have a pleasant life,'' Lewis said.
Lewis said police and the county Children Services Board were called by neighbors to investigate claims of abuse but they were stymied by Bush and Widdersheim.
Tribune Chronicle / Joe Gorman
Zaryl Bush, right, accused of killing his girlfriend’s 14-year-old son, listens to his court-appointed lawyer Lou DeFabio on Wednesday during his arraignment in Struthers Municipal Court.
''They refused to open doors,'' Lewis said.
Lewis said Foltz was injured Jan. 21 and taken to Akron Children's Hospital Boardman Campus and then transferred to St. Elizabeth's because his injuries were so severe. On Jan. 23, a relative contacted police and asked them to investigate because of the suspicious nature of Foltz's head injury, Lewis said.
As soon as they began, neither Bush nor Widdersheim cooperated, Lewis said.
''She was uncooperative. She declined to give a statement,'' Lewis said.
The boy died Monday and Bush was arrested Tuesday afternoon. The Mahoning County Coroner's Office said Wednesday the cause of Foltz's death was head trauma and that the case is still under investigation.
Widdersheim was arrested because she continued to hinder the investigation, and Lewis said she seemed to be bereft of any feelings.
''She's still not cooperating,'' Lewis said Wednesday afternoon. ''She's not showing much emotion. She just sits there. It's sick and it's scary.''
Lewis said Bush ran a tight ship in the three years he lived with Widdersheim, who also has 10-year-old twins who were apparently not abused by Bush. The twins are in the custody of Mahoning County CSB. He said when Struthers city schools reported suspected abuse in October, the couple withdrew the children from the district and opted to home school them.
''It appears the suspect ran it (home) like a boot camp,'' Lewis said. ''From everything we learned, the victim and his mother were cut off from their own family.''
Dave Arnold, executive of the Mahoning County CSB, said he could not discuss the Foltz case specifically, but said if case workers are rebuffed in their efforts to make contact with family members during an investigation they will leave notes and keep coming back to try and make contact.
The case has been a tough one for the investigators, especially Greenwood, who said his daughter was a classmate of Foltz and he would occasionally walk by his home.
''It did take a toll on me. It still has,'' Greenwood said.
Neighbors did not see the children much but said they were well behaved, Greenwood said.
''The neighbors said he was extremely polite,'' Greenwood said. ''He would shovel driveways.''