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State to return boy to parents

A boy who was removed from his home by authorities Saturday after a doctor suspected his elbow fracture was the result of abuse is expected to be returned to his parents today.

The parents of 18-month-old Christopher Parker greeted the news with joy Thursday night.

"I don't even think words can describe it," said Margaret Parker, Christopher's mother, after the boy's caseworker called to tell her he probably would be coming home.

Parker criticized the state Department of Children and Families for taking her son, saying she and her husband, Walter Douglas Parker, have never been investigated for abuse and have no criminal records.

State officials said they removed the boy because an emergency room doctor suspected abuse, and their new policy calls for quickly removing children with unexplained injuries and letting the courts decide their contact with parents.

Children and Families spokesman Tom Jones said the decision to return Christopher to his parents was made after department medical experts said they could not determine circumstances of the injury.

"We can't rule out anything, but we can't support anything," Jones said. "Sometimes we have injuries that nobody can explain." Christopher's case is closed, he said.

The Parkers' comments to reporters did not move the investigation faster than normal, Jones said. Some take a few days, others weeks, he said.

Margaret Parker said the caseworker who called her Thursday night told her that doctors think the injury occurred last Friday, the day before she brought Christopher to his pediatrician, then the emergency room, after he was in pain.

Parker said she told doctors that she thought the injury may have occurred Thursday. "Now we're even more puzzled," Parker said.

The Parkers say they do not know how Christopher's elbow was fractured. They told doctors Saturday that he may have fallen while playing with his sister. Without an explanation of the injury, which the doctor at Columbia Brandon Regional Medical Center thought could have been caused by an adult, authorities were called .

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