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More Charges Against Couple Accused of Starving Newborn Son

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. -- A couple from Jersey Shore was arrested last week accused of starving their newborn son.

Marissa Smith is now in jail because police say she and her boyfriend Justin Lawrence withheld food from their infant son.

A few years ago, Smith was found guilty in juvenile court for abusing her 4-month-old son. The boy's paternal grandmother says Smith punched the baby in the face.

To the average bystander, Shane Smith of Lock Haven looks and acts like a normal 4-year-old child, but according to his grandmother Cathy Snavely, the first few months of Shane's life were anything but normal.

When Shane was 4 months old, his father and grandmother got a phone call from Geisinger Medical Center.

"They told us he had four fractured skulls, bleeding of the brain, bruising of the brain, and he died once going to the hospital and once at the hospital," Cathy Snavely recalled.

At the time, Shane's mother Marissa Smith had custody. The boy's father and grandmother were told his mother punched Shane in the face.

Now four years later, Smith has now been charged with endangering the welfare of another child: her 3-month-old son Bently. Police say she and her boyfriend starved him.

The new charges against Smith bring back horrific memories for the Snavelys.

"His head was all swelled up. His face was black and blue. It was terrible," Cathy Snavely said.

"(It was) very upsetting. It still brings tears," said Josh Snavely.

In 2013, Marissa Smith was adjudicated delinquent, which means she was found guilty in juvenile court and lost custody of her first child Shane. The child now lives with his grandmother, his father Josh, and Josh's fiancée Kaleigh Garms, who he calls mom. Garms is glad the boy's biological mother is now behind bars.

"I was relieved that she'd never be able to hurt our babies again," Garms said.

The family tells Newswatch 16 they saw baby Bently during a recent visit and called Children and Youth.

"He was very skinny, very small," said Josh Snavely.

The family says Bently's brother Shane is now doing well but has some problems from when he was punched by his mother.

"He's blind in his left eye. He is on ADHD medication," Garms said.

Shane's family refers to him as their miracle baby. He attends school at Head Start and will enroll in kindergarten next year.

Bently is in the custody of Children and Youth and is doing well.

Marissa Smith and Justin Lawrence, Bently's father, are locked up in the Lycoming County jail.


  • KMarie Luttrell

    what bothers me most, is go to her facebook, look at her friends list, many of them list their employment as CNA’s, Nurses, a teacher and even a police officer…. all mandatory reporters, why did none of them report the abuse..

  • ozzycoop

    I’ll drive up there and punch her in the side of the head. Him too. I read he has 7 other children. Wear a condom idiot.

  • jsrant

    Another welfare recipient receiving money from us for drugs and not what it is for. Both of these dirt bags should be fixed so they can’t reproduce again.

  • Shifty Biscuits

    I’m not even going to waste my cyber ink on the character of these parents. We all know the deal. BUT, I will mention the prior miscarriage of justice brought on by the Judge(s), District Attorney’s office and Children and Youth services. SHAME ON THEM ALL!

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