Sheriff: boy burned by water so badly he may have internal injuries

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Photo of boy courtesy of aunt.

A Pontiac mother is charged after allegedly admitting to placing her 1-year-old in scalding hot water earlier this month.

Oakland County Sheriffs say the burns were so bad, the child may have suffered internal injuries to his organs - and what he endured was like torture. 

The child is so small he's diapered and covered from head to toe in bandages. Investigators say he was scalded and burned on his arm, back and forehead by his mother, Carmen Smith-Portee on May 19.

"A 1-year-old doesn't do anything wrong," said Megan Guerrero, neighbor. "We were told she had the boiling water in the bathtub and she was cleaning."

Guerrero, who lives nearby, isn't buying it - and neither were investigators. 

"That's not what happened," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

The exact story his mother Portee gave? She ran a bath for him, left him alone to get cleaning supplies and came back to find him in the burning hot water screaming.

Investigators say later Carmen admitted she put the child in the water because she got "frustrated."

"You can't even imagine a more horrible thing than having a baby intentionally placed in this setting," Bouchard said.

"I just know I heard a lot of screaming like someone was wrong," said neighbor David Deboer.

Deboer was there around noon and saw the aftermath of the incident on Apple Lane in Pontiac.

"I saw the father pull up and he was holding the baby and the baby was crying," he said. "I asked him what was wrong and he said something about the baby falling into some hot water and burned his skin off his face."

"There was a lot of commotion going on over here," said Belinda Rochat, a neighbor. "A lot of screaming that someone needed to call the police. Next thing we know the paramedics were here, the police were here, Child Protective Services were here, and they left with their kids."

Portee is now charged with first degree felony child abuse.
Guerrero says she saw the boy being mistreated before.

"I've seen her dragging the 1-year-old by his hair," she said. "Any 1-year-old being dragged by his hair, arm, anything, is abuse to me."

Another neighbor who says she just saw the boy, says the parents took care of their kids.
"He hugged me and he was just so happy," said Helen Herron. 

The boy's aunt is hoping her 1-year-old nephew can pull through.
"I know it is going to take a long time for him to make this adjustment but day by day he should be okay," she said. "We're praying he'll be okay, rather.  he pulls through."

The boy is still in critical condition at Detroit Children's Hospital of Michigan. He is in the burn unit and we are told that felony sentence could carry a sentence of life if mom is convicted. Portee has three other children who have been placed with other family members.