On March 4, 2021, detectives assigned to the Crimes Against Children Unit arrested 33 year-old Ashley Ferguson for Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child and two counts of Neglect of a Child, and 34-year-old Matthew Ferguson for three counts of Neglect of a Child.
The investigation began on July 12, 2020, when deputies responded to a private residence in the Highpoint area for an unresponsive child.
Detectives and Child Protection investigators, responded to the residence to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the child.
According to detectives, the child was found unresponsive in a bedroom by Ashley Ferguson. After discovering the child was unresponsive, Ferguson contacted emergency services and the child was pronounced deceased on-scene by Largo Fire Rescue.
Through various investigative techniques, detectives learned the children were malnourished, that they had not received adequate medical care, and were left unattended for long periods of time.
The investigation determined that the children had bedsores, diaper rash, severely matted hair, were unable to walk or bear any weight on their legs, and were also unable to speak. Ashley Ferguson admitted the children’s primary source of food was milk.
Detectives learned both, Ashley and Matthew Ferguson never sought medical treatment for the children, specifically the child who lost his ability to walk in April, 2020. Ashley Ferguson admitted to Matthew that she lied about the medical appointments.
On July 16, 2020, two children were placed in the care of a family member.
Due to the injuries, both surviving children received immediate medical care, which included oral surgery and feeding therapy. In addition, they will receive physical and speech therapy.
An autopsy was conducted on July 13, 2020 to determine cause and manner of death. On February 26, 2021, the results of the autopsy determined the child’s death a homicide with the cause of death being Chronic Child Neglect.
On March 4, 2021 at approximately 11:00 a.m., detectives arrested Ashley and Matthew Ferguson. They were transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.
Ashley Ferguson was charged with Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child and two counts of Neglect of a Child.
Matthew Ferguson was charged with three counts of Neglect of a Child.
The children remain in custody with family.
The investigation continues.