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A charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child has been filed against the 54-year-old Big Spring man who was arrested in mid-March on charges of abandoning/endangering a child â€“ criminal negligence and prohibited sexual conduct â€“ incest, according to investigators.
Edgar Dale Whitt, of 4302.5 S. Highway 87, was initially arrested March 18 after police officials responded to a report of a 7-year-old boy traveling down S. Highway 87 on a bicycle, attempting to run away from home. According to law enforcement officials, there were also two other children living in the home at the time, a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.
Law enforcement officials said the boy told officers he was running away from home after having been allegedly restrained with a straight jacket by his parents.
Whitt was arrested and charged with two counts of abandoning/endangering a child â€“ criminal negligence and one count of prohibited sexual conduct â€“ incest, a second-degree felony. Whitt is still in the custody of the Howard County Detention Center and has not yet bonded out.
According to Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker, the newest charge â€” filed Thursday, according to Big Spring Police Department records â€” is a result of the ongoing investigation.
â€śThrough the course of the investigation, interviews were conducted with the children,â€ť Parker said. â€śOnce we had a chance to gather all of the necessary evidence the decision was made to file the charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child against Whitt. The additional charge has been submitted to the district attorney's office.â€ť
Parker declined to comment on which of the children Whitt allegedly sexually abused â€” or how long the abuse had been taking place â€” citing an ongoing investigation.
Also arrested March 18 was Edgar Whitt's daughter, Tamara Ruth Whitt, 26, also of 4302.5 S. Highway 87, on charges of abandoning/endangering a child â€” criminal negligence (two counts).
Parker said the charge of incest was filed against Edgar Whitt after investigators discovered the man was not only the children's grandparent, but had also fathered at least one of them.
â€śAs part of the investigation we were trying to determine who the father of the children were,â€ť Parker said. â€śThe family had only moved to Big Spring about two years ago, which was making that somewhat difficult. However, after speaking to them for a while, it was discovered that Edgar Whitt â€” who is Tamara Whitt's father â€” had fathered at least one of the children with his daughter. That's when the decision was made to file additional charges against Edgar Whitt.â€ť
The March 18 arrest wasn't Edgar Whitt's first run-in with law enforcement in Howard County, as the Big Spring Herald has confirmed Forsan Independent School District â€” where at least one of the children attended school â€” filed a criminal trespass warning against the Big Spring man prior to his arrest.
According to reports, Whitt had used profanity and threatened a teacher at Elbow Elementary, prompting the school district to file the criminal trespass warning, which did not allow the man on school property.
A similar exchange of profanity and threats also landed Whitt in hot water with New Hope Christian School, where the remaining children attended daycare, according to unconfirmed reports. However, no criminal charges were filed with law enforcement by New Hope Christian School administrators.
While the investigation continues, the three children have been removed from the home by Child Protective Services and are currently in foster care.
â€śFrom what I've heard, the children are doing very well in foster care,â€ť Parker said.
According to officials with the Howard County Detention Center, bond has been set for Edgar Whitt at $5,000 for each count of abandoning/endangering a child â€” criminal negligence and $15,000 for prohibited sexual conduct â€” incest. Bond for the charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child has been set at $75,000, for a total of $100,000.
Bond for Tamara Whitt has been set at $5,000 for each count of abandoning/endangering a child â€” criminal negligence, for a total of $10,000. Neither have bonded out at this time and remain in the custody of the Howard County Detention Center.