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An Ohio Father Fighting For New State Legislation to Protect Abused Kids
STRUTHERS, OHIO -- An unthinkable crime against an Ohio teen and now his father is fighting to keep other kids safe.
Teddy Foltz was abused, beaten and murdered by his mother's boyfriend.
"Always had a smile on his face, fun-loving, nice would do anything for anybody and he was a jokester like me, "said Shawn Tedesco, Teddy Foltz's father, "He just had a good heart."
He was beaten by his mother's boyfriend, Zaryl Bush, for four years.
"They belittled him, they put him down, daily, subjected him to walking on hot coals," said Tedesco.
But on January 21, 2013, Bush took the abuse one step further.
"She said he's on life support," said Tedesco, "And we'll be taking him off life support in the next couple of days."
Teddy passed five days later and his father, Shawn, never had the chance to say goodbye.
"It was heartbreaking, and I cried for days about it," Tedesco said.
The most heartbreaking reality for Shawn, is he never knew the abuse was going on.
Several of Teddy's teachers at Struthers Middle School reported the abuse, and Teddy was later pulled out of school.
His mother claimed she was homeschooling him.
It was also reported by several neighbors.
"It was obvious to all the neighbors that it was just horrible behavior, that he was never treated properly, I myself called Children Services several times and it seemed like nothing was ever done," said a neighbor.
When Children Services would come to check on Teddy and his two brothers, his abusers would leave a note on the door saying, no one's home, and to come back later.
"That was all it took to keep Children Services away," said David Engler, the family's attorney, "They never took action, they never came in to see what was happening to Teddy, never interviewed Teddy, never talked to his brothers, so they didn't do what they were supposed to do."
After Teddy's murder, Struthers Police started investigating, and found there was an open case in a neighboring county.
The family had moved from Hubbard in Trumbull County, to just down the road to Struthers in Mahoning County.
But the abuse didn't stop, and the investigation never followed the family.
"We pay them to do this job, and they failed to do this job," said Engler.
Shawn is now suing Mahoning County Children Services for $1.5 million but he's not stopping there.
"We want to protect kids through Teddy's Law and we hope that that's a reality one day," said Tedesco.
Teddy's law would stiffen penalties for abusers of children.
It would also give children services more authority during investigations.
If they visit a home twice and no one answers, it would allow them to get a search warrant and go into the home.
And if there's an open CSB investigation, the child cannot be pulled out of school.
And finally, Shawn wants to create a state wide child abuse registry, something similar to the sex offender registry the state uses now.
"No parent should ever have to feel that type of pain, not when it can be prevented," said Tedesco.
Ohio legislators have been talking about Teddy's Law for several months, at this time, it's in committee meetings.
But in the mean time it's teddy and his father who now have to bear the burden of an abuser.
"Any parent would trade their life with one of their kids and that's all kept for like six months," said Tedesco, "I just wish it was me and not Teddy."
As for Teddy's murderer, Zaryl Bush, he plead guilty to murder, child endangering and tampering with evidence.
He's now serving 33 years to life in prison.
Teddy's mother, Shain Widdersheim, is is now serving 15 years after pleading guilty to child endangering.
We reached out to her in prison, but she declined to do an interview with us.
Miami Valley Crime StoppersIf you have information about a crime that has occurred, call Miami Valley Crime Stoppers at 937-222-7867 (STOP) 800-637-5735, 24 hours a day. Callers can remain anonymous.
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