Evidence indicates that physical abuse of the now 4-year-old girl in this case started in 2011, Lt. Ruben Diaz of the HCSO Criminal Investigations Bureau said at a news conference this afternoon (see photo).
Investigators believe the child’s mother, nurse Katie Alice Ripstra, 31, of northwest Harris County, at one point introduced dangerous levels of salt in liquid form into her child’s body through a feeding tube, he added.
In one treatment visit in 2013 to Texas Children’s Hospital, where Ripstra worked, the child was unconscious and had suffered a brain injury as a result of the unusually level of salt in her body, Diaz said. The child recovered after treatment that included three days in an intensive care unit. It was one of the child’s four or more stays in that hospital in 2013.
“I have children of my own. I have grandchildren of my own. It’s horrible,” Diaz said. “We expect parents to be the safeguards of their children.”
He also said there is no indication that other children were hurt and no evidence that another one of the girl’s parents was involved in poisoning her.
Ripstra is free on a $30,000 bail bond pending trial. She does not have custody of her child, and Children’s Protective Services is involved in the investigation.