ST. GEORGE – A St. George family is looking for answers after a man allegedly forced the head of a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome into a movie theater bathroom sink and washed off the boy’s dragon face paint. A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the man’s arrest.
It was Mother’s Day weekend and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had just hit theaters. Carol Boehme said her son couldn’t wait to see the new movie, so the two went on a mother-son date on May 9 to see it together at the Megaplex Sunset Stadium 8 theater located on Bluff Street.
Boehme’s son had attended a birthday party earlier that day where a professional artist had been hired to do face painting on the children. The boy chose what Boehme described as an immaculate and beautiful dragon, which was painted across her son’s forehead and then down around a portion of his face.
The boy was gleaming with excitement, she said, proudly displaying his face painting as he and his mom sat through the superhero movie he had been so elated to see. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., when the movie had ended and the two were walking out, the boy told his mom he needed to go to the bathroom.
Boehme said she always used to take her disabled son into the women’s bathroom but stopped after family members told her it was no longer appropriate. With the boy urgently needing to use the restroom and the handicapped bathroom being locked, Boehme said, she let her son go into the men’s bathroom while she sat and waited for him on a bench.
“I just sat down on that little bench and was waiting and waiting, and there was crowds of people, and all of the sudden, all of the crowd started to clear out,” Boehme said. “So I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ So, when I finally thought I better check on him because he had been in there so long, I went and peeked in and he was just on the floor, gathering his glasses up off the floor, and his head was soaking wet.”
Her son appeared to be in shock and was crying, Boehme said. After he got up from the floor, he showed his mom through gestures how someone had forcefully pushed his head under the faucet and washed off his dragon face paint. Boehme said her son was traumatized.
“I was just like, how could anybody do that to him?” she said. “He was just having so much fun. He was so happy to see the show finally, and then they just like, you know, crushed his world – and they crushed my world, too, because I just couldn’t believe that somebody would hurt and scare anybody.”
Boehme notified the theater security guard about what had happened, and the police were called. Officers reviewed surveillance footage to identify the person who may have been responsible.
“The police officer came and took the information, but I said, ‘He won’t be able to tell you or describe to you, but he will be able to point him out,’ you know, he would be able to with no doubt,” Boehme said. “If he sees him on that surveillance camera, he would be able to identify him. He’s really smart, he just can’t communicate; you can’t understand him.”
As they were reviewing the footage, an employee pointed out a man in the video who made a gesture to the people he was with as if he was washing off a face, Boehme said.
“(My son) was watching the first time and didn’t notice him at first,” she said, “but when we got to the end of the surveillance, I said, ‘Maybe go back and just see if he’ … and we pointed and said, ‘Was it him?’ and (my son) said, ‘Yes,’ and before he would say ‘no, no, no.’ He knew exactly who did it and he identified him.”
Boehme described the man as being in his 60s, heavyset with a big belly and weighing about 400 pounds. The man was wearing a ball cap when the incident occurred. Boehme said the surveillance footage shows the man was accompanied by a woman around his same age, heavyset with short blonde hair, along with two other couples.
“You know, they just did not appear the type that would do that,” she said, “but (my son) absolutely knew that that’s who did it and pointed him out, so the movie (theater employee) gave the police officer a picture.”
He traumatized him. He just cried from it and was just in shock and seemed so violated. Then, when he called my sister on the phone – he wanted to tell her – he just hysterically cried for an hour or two and, finally, I got him to calm down. I said ‘let’s say a prayer’ and we said a little prayer … and it kind of calmed him down, but he still will show you someone taking his head and pushing it under the sink and washing off his face. It was heartbreaking. He just was so sad.
While waiting for the Police Department to follow up on leads, Boehme has taken it upon herself to try and find justice for her son. She created a flyer that has been quickly spreading and gaining momentum on social media. Boehme is also offering a $500 reward for anyone with information that helps lead to the man’s arrest.
“I just feel like people need to be aware,” Boehme said. “I don’t even know if the guy realizes he did something wrong, you know, so he just needs to be notified that that’s just not OK. You don’t ever do that to anybody. (My son) was just devastated. It just makes me sick when I think of him in the back of my mind, just on the floor picking up his little glasses, just in complete shock. It just breaks my heart. He just crushed him and devastated him.”
“It’s kind of a weird deal; kind of interesting circumstances,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. “We don’t necessarily know if an assault occurred – the boy wasn’t harmed in any way – but it is strange someone took it upon themselves to wash the boy’s face.”
Despain said the Investigation Division has taken over the case and is reviewing the surveillance footage for possible suspects. However, the surveillance footage is not being released to the public at this point in the investigation, he said.
Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to contact Detective Ence with the St. George Police Department at 435-627-4300.
As this report is published, requests made to Megaplex Sunset Stadium 8 general and regional managers are pending response.
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