Mom of dead Topeka boy didn’t seek help for domestic abuse

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The mother of a dead 6-month-old boy didn’t leave his father despite allegations of ongoing abuse.

Interviews with Topeka Police reveal Debra Roberts stayed with her husband, Gage Roberts, because she had hopes of keeping her family together.

The former Topeka mom grew up in the foster care system.

Roberts goal was shattered in July when the couple were arrested in Bakersfield, California. They now face second degree murder and child endangerment charges, after the deaths of two of their three sons.

Camden Roberts died in a Topeka home in November 2015. His 18-day-old brother, Crimson died in a California motel room five months later.

Documents obtained by KSNT News highlight abuse allegations from concerned neighbors and church members.

Family friend, Olivia Miller, said  “She wanted that dream of a family but you can’t have a family with someone who has a problem .”

YWCA center for safety and empowerment program director, Michelle McCormick, explained why someone in Debra Robert’s shoes might choose to stay in a dangerous relationship.

“For many victims they are compartmentalizing…the person who is harming me, sure they’re harming me but they’re still a good father or still a good parent.”

McCormick told KSNT News 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men is the victim of domestic violence. Keeping their family together is the most common reason a victim stays with their partner.

The YWCA program director said women in similar situations can find help through the Center for Safety and Empowerment. You can also contact the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

In the case of Gage Roberts, allegations of child abuse were also raised by those close to the couple.

Debra Robert’s foster mother told police Debra came home from a late night class to find her husband had strangled their son.

A police report indicated Debra was able to revive Camden, at a neighbor’s house.

On a separate day, the child died of sudden unexpected infant death syndrome according to reports from the Shawnee County coroner’s office.

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