Before joining the police department, Officer Jody Thompson handled a number of child abuse cases when he worked as an investigator for the district attorney’s office. When he pulled into the Poteau Police Department parking lot in Oklahoma two years ago, he overheard a dispatch about a case of physical child abuse.
Even though he was not on duty at that time, he responded and offered assistance. “I’ve investigated child abuse cases before. I thought I’d better go ahead and respond,” he said.
When he reached the scene, he was shocked to see a boy, severely underweight with belts binding his wrists. His back was bruised and he had a large knot on his head. The boy was submerged in a trash can of cold water. “He did not have a spot on his body that didn’t have a bruise or abrasion. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Thompson covered the boy, John, with a blanket. He was taken to Children’s Advocacy Center in Oklahoma so that investigators and detectives could take pictures, and then was taken to the emergency room.
“I sat with him. And when he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I sat all night until the next day,” said Thompson. “When I’d seen him in that house shivering and his hands tied — just soaking wet and confused — I knew at that moment the only time I would be satisfied and sure that he was safe is if he was with me,” he added.
Thompson contacted the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to become a certified foster parent. A few days later, he brought John home.
“At the time, I had a 15-year-old son and an 8-year-old son. When I brought John home I didn’t tell them or my wife. Everyone knew… they trusted I was doing the right thing before they even knew what happened and heard the story,” he said.
After seven months, the DHS contacted Thompson to tell him that John’s mother had a baby girl while she was in prison and asked him if he would be interested in fostering her. “We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home. Never in my life did I dream of having a large family, but God had different plans and so here we are. And I’m loving it all,” he said.
John’s parents relinquished their parental rights and Thompson adopted him. They, however, did not relinquish rights for their daughter. The parents’ rights were finally terminated after a lengthy jury trial and an appeal. The little girl, Paizley, was adopted on February 16.
John had to testify on his own behalf during the trial. “John is the toughest guy I’ve ever met. John is amazing. He’s a straight-A student, on the honor roll, in the gifted and talented program, involved in the local drama club. That kid’s very resilient. He bounced back from this,” Thompson said.
Thompson received a certificate of commendation from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations. John was by his side as he accepted it.