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Police documents detail death of child at Scottsdale extended-stay hotel

Stephanie Marie Davis and Thomas James Desharnais
Posted at 11:00 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 00:54:39-05

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Police documents detail alleged ongoing abuse toward a child who died after an incident at a Scottsdale extended-stay hotel over the weekend.

Fifty-one-year-old Stephanie Marie Davis, and her husband, 33-year-old Thomas James Desharnais, were both arrested after police found an injured 11-year-old at a hotel in Scottsdale Sunday evening.

The child was taken to the hospital where he died, police say.

According to police, first responders say Davis told police dispatchers she found her grandson unresponsive in the bathtub.

First responders say they removed “a half liter of water” from the child’s body during life-saving efforts, and numerous other injuries were noted.

Police say the injuries were at various stages of healing.

Davis reportedly changed her story two times when she described being outside of the bathroom and then finding the child unresponsive.

Police say a child abuse report was taken in 2017 involving the victim when a staff member at a school reported an injury. Davis told officials she had been homeschooling the victim and his sibling, who was also at the extended-stay at the time of the incident.

The family had been living at the hotel for several years and was known to panhandle in the area, police reported.

Davis had sole custody of the victim and his half-sibling. The victim’s mother is reportedly a suspect in a homicide involving Davis’s son, and the victim’s father is in an out-of-state prison for child molestation.

Police say that recently Davis had become more physically and verbally abusive toward both children. Desharnais told police he thinks Davis was retaliating against the children because their mother was “involved in the death of (her) son.”

Desharnais reportedly told police the victim would go with little or no food for days at a time and said he would sneak food to the child.

Desharnais told police that he did not report the abuse and “that he should have intervened.”

He also reported that on the day before the child’s death, he came back to the hotel room and heard Davis assaulting the victim in the bathroom.

Davis told police during an interview that she didn’t “touch a hair on those boys" and that the child was harming himself.

Police say they found blood evidence throughout the hotel room, a shock collar without a pet, and a wrench with blood residue.

Davis is being held on a $3.5 million cash bond and Desharnais is being held on a $1.5 million cash bond.

The half-brother of the victim was taken into custody by the Department of Child Services, Scottsdale police say.

The Department of Child Safety released the following information Tuesday about previous incidents involving the two suspects and the victim.

Police have not yet released the child's identity. However, DCS did identify the child in its statement. ABC15 is withholding the child's name until confirmed by police or family.

DCS received the following prior reports involving Ms. Davis and Mr. Desharnais:

On March 22, 2017, the Department received a report alleging physical abuse to [the now-deceased victim] by Ms. Davis. The report alleged [name redacted] had a bruise behind his ear and scratch to his face and that Ms. Davis had hit [name redacted] causing the injuries. The DCS investigation did not find evidence to support the allegations. The allegation was unsubstantiated and no services were offered to the family. The case was closed on April 14, 2017.

On May 15, 2017, the Department received a report alleging physical abuse to [the now-deceased victim] by Ms. Davis, Mr. Desharnais and another adult. The report alleged [name redacted] had deep purple and red bruising under his right eye. The DCS investigation did not find evidence to support the allegations. The allegations were unsubstantiated and no services were offered but community resources were provided to the family. The case was closed on July 17, 2017.

On August 31, 2017, the Department received a report alleging physical abuse to a child by Mr. Desharnais. The report alleged the child had discoloration to his forehead due to Mr. Desharnais picking up the child and throwing him down. The family moved out of state during the investigation. The alleged concerns were cross reported to the state’s social service entity. The DCS investigation did not find evidence to support the allegations. The allegation was unsubstantiated and no services were offered to the family. The case was closed on September 18, 2017.