Police uncover pattern of alleged abuse

Christopher James Trent

The man who lawmen believe killed a 2-year-old Norman boy cared for the toddler on other occasions when the child suffered injuries, investigators wrote in a court filing.

Law enforcement officials from several agencies conducted a massive manhunt in early January for Christopher James Trent who fled Cleveland County and eventually hung himself from a tree in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma.

Trent was the boyfriend of the toddler's mother identified as Rebecca Hogue.

As the investigation into the boy's death continued, Norman police detectives discovered there were previous incidents when the child was injured while in Trent's care. The boy was treated for the injuries, but Trent always explained that the boy had fallen when questioned by the mother, according to the affidavit. Norman police were never contacted about the reported injuries, agency spokeswoman Sarah Jensen said.

However, the injuries remain part of the ongoing investigation, she confirmed.

The affidavit did not state the number of times the child was hurt and treated for those injuries.

Investigators initially said the boy showed signs of blunt force trauma to his body. During a search of the mother's duplex, 723 Vicksburg Ave., police noticed damage to a piece of sheetrock with hair that was consistent with hair from the boy's head. According to the police affidavit, investigators found the hair from a hole in the wall in the master bedroom.

Police seized several other items including a letter from Trent that was found on the top of the freezer, a bed cover and sheet from the master bedroom bed, a piece of glass found in the master bedroom and size 11 black Adidas shoes.

Trent's apparent suicide did not immediately close the investigation. Homicide detectives are continuing to gather information and probe the boy's death.

Hogue told detectives she left her son in Trent's care on Dec. 31 at about 3 p.m. when she went to work. Her shift lasted until 3:30 a.m. When she arrived home at about 4:10 a.m., Hogue saw that Trent and the boy were already asleep so she did not wake them, the affidavit shows. The child was still alive at that time, she told police.

Later in the morning, Hogue said she awoke and went to check on her son who felt cold to the touch. Trent already had left for work, she reported. The mother told police she carried the boy to the living room and saw he was turning blue, the affidavit shows. That's when she called 911 and summoned emergency help.

Norman officers observed numerous bruises to the child, according to a separate affidavit. Some of the visible injuries included a large bruise on the face, bruises and discoloration to the groin and a large bruise to the back. Hogue reportedly told police Trent told her a few days earlier that the child fell down the stairs, but Hogue said she did not witness the incident.

Police investigators, Hogue and other family members tried to reach Trent by cell phone as the search began, but the suspect never answered. The suspect's vehicle, which was parked and abandoned, was found by park rangers in the wildlife refuge. The vehicle was towed back to Norman for inspection by police.

During a search of the vehicle, police found a T-Mobile Smart phone. Police did not specify in the affidavit if the cell phone belonged to Trent.

Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley told reporters his deputies had, on a previous occasion, searched for Trent after he threatened to commit suicide in the wildlife refuge. Ironically, Trent's vehicle was parked in the same place in both instances.

Trent's criminal past included two convictions for assault and battery on a police officer in Oklahoma County.

Tim Farley366-3539tfarley@normantranscript.com

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