Adoption parents charged with murder after using restraint technique on 4-year-old

This month, two parents in Mount Airy, North Carolina were arrested on suspicion of murdering their 4-year-old adopted son. According to warrants, Joseph Wilson, 41, and Jodi Wilson, 38, are accused of killing Skyler Wilson.

The warrants state that Joseph was sent a text from his wife mentioning a “problem” with “swaddling” Skyler on January 5, accompanied by a picture of the boy wrapped in some kind of cloth, face down and duct taped to the floor. He passed away four days later.

In an interview with a former foster parent of Skyler and his brother, Jodi allegedly revealed that the children had been subjected to gating in a room for excessive periods of time, swaddling, food restriction, and exorcisms. No further details about the exorcisms were given in the warrant.

On December 7th, out of concern for the two boys, a former foster parent contacted the Surry County Department of Social Services and filed a formal report.

Skyler and his brother had been living with the Wilsons since September 2021 and Jodi and Joseph had previous experience in fostering children. The police warrant revealed that Jodi had employed the parenting methods of a self-proclaimed “professional therapeutic parent” named Nancy Thomas.

Thomas, upon being informed of Skyler’s death, expressed shock and sadness but could not comment any further due to lack of knowledge about the incident.

On January 6th, a doctor consulted by the sheriff’s office reported that Skyler had a hypoxic brain injury, which is caused by lack of oxygen reaching the brain, and that his injuries were consistent with the “too much restriction” effect of the swaddling technique.

Swaddling is a technique used by parents in which they wrapping a blanket around the baby’s body to help the baby sleep, however, it is also linked to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome if the baby rolls over while swaddled and is unable to roll back.

The Surry County Sheriff’s Office was granted a search warrant to investigate the Wilson home. Upon entering, authorities observed wrist and ankle support straps and braces, as well as cameras in a tote bag.

The investigation revealed that Skyler passed away due to abuse by Jodi and Joseph Wilson, and the death is now being investigated as a homicide. Both parents were taken into custody and charged with murder.

They were jailed at the Surry County Detention Center with no bond, and are due in court on February 2, 2023. Other children in the Wilson family have been turned over to the Department of Social Services.

Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt remarked, “This is a tragic event that resulted in the death of a precious child way too soon. Please remember the other siblings involved in this situation as well as the investigators who worked tirelessly on this case in your thoughts and prayers.”