The first time authorities took terminally ill Walter Vanguilder from his family a year ago, he was covered with bruises from a beating his mother admitted on Friday she gave him.
Tina Vanguilder, in an interview Friday before her appearance in Erie County Family Court to try to regain custody of her son, said she deeply regrets attacking him.
At times weeping, she shared details of the beating to make it publicly clear her live-in boyfriend Gregory T. Gorney had no involvement in the October 1996 attack.
Ms. Vanguilder believes Gorney, 36, is unfairly accused by police, who have charged him with forcing a hamburger down Walter's throat. The boy, who has a terminal brain tumor, is fed three times a day through a tube in his stomach.
The beating last year occurred after the now-15-year-old tracked feces through the Vanguilders' former home in Chautauqua County following an early morning accident, Ms. Vanguilder said.
"I'm ashamed of what I did, but how would you feel if you woke up at 6 in the morning after going to bed at 2 a.m. and him being handicapped? He walked all over the house tracking feces. I'd been up late because my water bed was leaking," she said.
Her younger son, William, remained in his bedroom and yelled that he was choking because of the odor, Ms. Vanguilder said.
The 32-year-old woman said her boyfriend eventually succeeded in calming her. She then gave her ill son a shower.
As he was washed, Walter repeatedly apologized, according to Ms. Vanguilder.
She said her response was "I know you're sorry, but look at what you're doing to me." She noted that at that time she had no in-house nursing care for Walter.
It took a month for the black and blue marks to heal, she said, adding that she reported herself to child protection workers after a doctor examined Walter several hours after the beating.
"I called myself. The doctor said he was going to, but I called," Ms. Vanguilder said.
In February, Walter returned to his mother's custody, and the family moved to Colgate Avenue in South Buffalo for a fresh start.
"I went for counseling and did everything they told me to do" to retain custody, Ms. Vanguilder said.
But she again has lost custody.
And now with Walter likely to be released from Children's Hospital shortly, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Sharon S. Townsend on Friday agreed to let him live temporarily with his maternal grandmother and pressed the Erie County Social Services Department to seek 24-hour nursing care for the dying boy.
Justice Townsend ruled that when Walter is released from Children's, where he has been since Sunday, he can join his brother William, 13, at the Buffalo home of their maternal grandmother, Rose Wils.
Justice Townsend also ruled that Ms. Vanguilder can come to her mother's home during daylight hours to have supervised visits with Walter and help her mother with his care.
The judge told Ms. Vanguilder she had to "follow the directions of your mother" on caring for Walter.
After hearing that the younger boy is being picked on in school because of news reports about the family's problems, Justice Townsend also issued an order barring the news media from attempting further contacts with either boy or Ms. Vanguilder.
Amid unsuccessful attempts by attorneys for Ms. Vanguilder and Gorney to bar the media from a Friday court hearing, Justice Townsend noted that Ms. Vanguilder, and not court officials or social service workers, has spoken freely to the media.
Gorney awaits a City Court proceeding Thursday on felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly abusing the dying boy and violating court orders of protection.
Both boys are currently wards of the County Social Services Department, whose attorneys agreed Friday to let Mrs. Wils care for both of the boys temporarily.
William has been living with his grandmother since early this month because of an alleged series of earlier incidents with Gorney.
Mrs. Wils told the judge Friday that her daughter "is a good mother" and that she could use her help because of the limited nursing care provided to her dying grandson.
Court officials said any members of the news media who now attempt to contact the sons of Ms. Vanguilder will be subject to contempt of court proceedings and possible arrest and jailing. After Mrs. Wils told the judge the family is only provided nursing care for Walter from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. daily, James Brown, a Social Services Department attorney, assured the judge his agency will "explore the possibility of further nursing care" for Walter.
Theresa Lorenzo, court-assigned law guardian for both of Ms. Vanguilder's children, said 24-hour nursing care in such cases is a rarity, but as long as Ms. Vanguilder helps her mother the county will have no problems with the boys living with their maternal grandmother temporarily.
Ms. Vanguilder has been free on her on recognizance the past week on misdemeanor charges linked to the alleged mistreatment of her sons.
The judge also kept in force court orders of protection for both boys against both Ms. Vanguilder and Gorney and told Hollis M. Hite and Howard Kleiman, the couple's attorneys, that should Gorney get out of jail on bail he is not to go near either boy "wherever they may be."
The court case began when Buffalo police responded late Sunday evening to a 911 call about domestic trouble in the Colgate Avenue home Gorney shared with Ms. Vanguilder and her two sons.