Man arrested in murder of Taft child

Man arrested in murder of Taft child
TAFT, Calif. — The death of a little boy in Taft has been ruled a homicide, and 25-year-old Dustin Wedel has been arrested in the case.

James Fanshier, 3, died on Jan. 23, and Thursday the Kern County coroner's office ruled the child died from multiple blunt force injuries.

Wedel is being held on charges of murder, torture and abuse. When he was killed, James was living with his father's ex-girlfriend, Stormie Roberts.

Glenda Porter told Eyewitness News her daughter was happy to care for the child, and the family had taken James in as one of their own when his father put him in Stormie's care.

"When he came to us, we just opened our arms, home and heart to him, and gave him love," Porter said. "And he was happy."

Porter said her daughter had a relationship with James' father, Eavan Fanshier. The father had gotten sole custody of the child from the biological mother.

Glenda Porter said her daughter started caring for James a couple years ago. Stormie would work, and Eaven Fanshier would mostly stay home with his son. But, at some point, the couple broke up, and Fanshier left his son in Stormie's care.

"The father left, and left him with Stormie, because he knew that was a good place for him," Porter said. "She gave the baby her whole heart."

In late January of this year, Stormie moved into a small house in the 200 block of Van Buren in Taft, along with her new boyfriend Wedel and James.

"(James) was in the care of someone that we thought loved and cared for him," Porter said.

She said on Jan. 23, Stormie came home from work, and James said he was sick.

"He wasn't showing any sign of hurt anywhere," Porter said. "Just laying, and looking and watching."

Porter said James had thrown up, but she and Stormie thought the child had the flu. Porter said she didn't see any injuries.

Porter left the house, but about an hour later her daughter called.

"She woke up and got (James), and he was already dying, he died in her arms," Porter said.

Sheriff's reports say when officers were called out, they were met by a woman who was holding the child. A deputy starting giving CPR, but the boy was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene.

Eyewitness News obtained search warrants in the case. Those documents show investigators looked for any evidence at the house, including "any weapons which could inflict blunt force or any trauma to the child. Any and all items possibly used in the child's death, which might cause any injury."

The warrant also states that officers found "the child had obvious injuries on his body, bruising on the chest, ribs and arms."

Porter said her daughter and James' father are too upset to talk about the child's death. She said the couple got back together after the boy's funeral. Porter added that her heart goes out to the child's other relatives.

Sheriff's deputies say Wedel was arrested Thursday afternoon at his mother's home in Bakersfield without incident. He faces one charge of murder, one count of torture and one count of abuse of a minor resulting in death. Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt also told Eyewitness News no additional arrests are expected in the case.

Porter said James' life was cut too short.

"James' birthday is coming up on the 30th of this month," she said.

Porter said her family wants answers. They were not blood relatives to James, but considered themselves his adoptive family.

"He was just like my own," she said. "We want justice."