When he was found on a forest floor in May after allegedly being abandoned overnight by his father, 13-month-old Bradley Michael Thomas had a broken leg, a skull fracture and methamphetamine in his blood system.
The baby’s condition had not been made public until a hearing Wednesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court to consider whether his father, Brandon Michael Blouin, 26, should be released from custody while awaiting trial in April. Blouin faces charges including child abandonment and reckless endangerment.
In weighing whether to release Blouin, Judge A. Michael Adler listened to a letter from Bradley’s maternal grandmother that was read aloud in court.
“Brandon is a major flight risk,” Mellisa Jordan wrote. “He is a danger to anyone and anything in his path. … I’m asking the court to let us please let us continue to heal in peace.”
Adler denied Blouin’s request and took the rare step of increasing his bond from the $200,000 the prosecution sought, to $500,000. Adler also ruled Blouin’s grandparents would not get back the $2,500 they put up the first time he was released from jail in July, before he left the state without authorization and returned to Ohio to live with his grandparents and 4-year-old daughter.
“This is one of the most blatant violations of a release agreement I’ve seen,” Adler said.
At the hearing Wednesday, Blouin wore navy jail clothes and was watched over by two sheriff’s deputies. He’s been an inmate of the Deschutes County jail since he was arrested leaving his room at the Motel 6 for violating the conditions of his July release.
Police allege that in the early morning of May 10, Blouin, his former girlfriend, Katelin Dawn Jordan, 19, and their son were living in a vehicle parked off China Hat Road in the sparsely populated forestlands south of Bend.
At some point, Jordan left the vehicle. Blouin chased after her, their child in his arms, police have said.
Not finding her, he allegedly placed Bradley on the ground near a fencepost and continued on, eventually making his way to a home on Sholes Road at about 6:20 a.m. and asking an owner to call the police.
A major multiagency search effort commenced, aided by a crew of wildland firefighters who were preparing to perform a controlled burn in the area. Bradley was found by Deschutes County sheriff’s Detective Doug Jackson around noon. It’s not known exactly how long Bradley was left alone, but authorities have said it’s at least six hours, when overnight temperatures dropped to 43 degrees.
Blouin was arrested on suspicion of child abandonment, reckless endangerment and other counts. A charge of custodial interference with a child was added when investigators learned Blouin had days earlier allegedly stolen Bradley from his legal guardian — Jordan’s mother, who lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Blouin has told The Bulletin that on that night, a group of men and one woman were chasing him with machetes and firearms. He said he only left Bradley on the ground to draw them away from the boy.
Jordan has said Blouin violated a protective order and stole their son and forced her to accompany them on a flight from the law. She said the night Bradley was left in the forest, she ran from the vehicle after Blouin beat her and wouldn’t let her take Bradley with her.
Because Wednesday’s hearing was to consider whether to grant Blouin release from custody, the prosecution was permitted to state facts for the judge to consider, including new details about Bradley’s night alone.
“When he was discovered naked in the brush, he had a broken leg, skull fractures and meth was found in his system,” said prosecutor Van McIver.
McIver told the judge that Blouin has numerous violent crimes on his record dating to 2009.
Another new detail is that the incident was preceded by an event unreported by law enforcement spokespeople. About an hour before Blouin is said to have asked the homeowner to make an emergency call, a different resident called police to report a young woman covered in scratches and bruises — Jordan — had made her way onto their land and was “mumbling incoherently.”
A sheriff’s deputy arrived and Jordan said Blouin had beaten her up and their child might be somewhere nearby.
“She appeared to be under the influence of meth,” McIver said.
Jordan was not charged in the incident.
Following his arrest and international coverage of the case, Blouin’s grandparents paid for his release from jail. One of his conditions was to not leave the state without permission.
He filed a motion to return to his native Belpre, Ohio, to await trial, stating he didn’t have resources and knew no one in the Bend area. Judge Randy Miller denied the motion.
Blouin missed his next hearing, Nov. 14, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Jackson started receiving tips Blouin had returned to Belpre, which is only a few minutes by car to the West Virginia border and the town where his son’s legal guardian lives.
Blouin’s attorney, Karla Nash, told the judge Wednesday her client’s belief he was being chased that night is reasonable because he’d met people days earlier at a camp who he legitimately feared would harm him. He’d sold them items, including a trailer, and they perhaps thought he’d have money on him, she said.
Blouin said he was unaware he had a warrant until asked about it by a Bulletin reporter.
Nash said he called her right away from a new phone and arranged to return to Oregon to clear the warrant. He was hours from meeting with her at her office when he was picked up by police outside his room at Motel 6, she said.
Jackson was once again in attendance for Blouin’s hearing. He’s been heavily involved in the case since discovering Bradley in the woods. He was the arresting officer when Blouin emerged from the Motel 6 on Nov. 27.
At one point Wednesday, the judge asked the name of the baby in this case.
Jackson spoke, “Bradley,” from the back of the courtroom before Blouin could answer.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com