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East Lyme mom accused of abusing 17-month-old son

Katie Nichols, 36, appeared in a New London court Tuesday. The East Lyme mom is accused of hitting, smothering, and abusing her 17-month-old son.

EAST LYME, Conn. — East Lyme mother Katie Nichols, 36, was arraigned in a New London court Tuesday for allegedly abusing her 17-month-old son.

In the arrest warrant, Nichols admitted to investigators in February that she had a history of yelling, hitting, violently shaking, and smothering her son with a pillow. She told police he was “being a typical toddler and crying” which frustrated her.

Her therapist reached out to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) that month after Nichols told her she had abused him. “The accused also stated to her therapist that she did not intend to end the victim’s life,” the affidavit said.

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Nichols told investigators she had a history of animal abuse growing up, according to the arrest warrant. She claimed the baby’s father, who lived with them in their apartment on Flanders Road and Route 1, was aware of what she does but hadn’t done anything to stop it. The affidavit says the father admitted to knowing, but not the extent of the abuse, and didn’t have the courage to say anything. 

Nichols reportedly told police she has mental health issues as well. In January, she reported she had harmful thoughts and suicide for three years and was seeking a treatment provider, the arrest warrant stated. 

After being seen at a local hospital, she said she was told she had intermittent explosive disorder, which can lead to sudden and repeated episodes of “impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts,” according to the Mayo Clinic

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In March, a DCF investigator received a call from someone who said they were Nichols’ therapist. The woman reported Nichols claimed to have slapped the baby on the stomach because he was “getting under her skin.” Nichols reportedly denied intentions to kill the baby but had reported past thoughts of killing herself or the child, according to the arrest warrant.

East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein said DCF has placed the baby in a home, not with the father.

Nichols reportedly told police she had past verbal and emotional abuse from both of her parents but then said her father was not abusive. Nichols then told police the baby’s father, who police do not believe were married, would threaten to abuse her the same way she did their son.

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The father’s mom appeared at Nichols’ court appeared Tuesday but did not want to speak with the media.

The bail commissioner asked for the mom to be released on the promise to appear. The judge did not grant it citing the details of the case.

When asked by investigators in March what she would like the outcome of the situation to be, Nichols said she wants to be a family again and continue working on her anger issues. She admitted it was possible she could abuse her son again, according to the arrest warrant.

Neighbors of the family say they were quiet and were not seen often. Brittany Wood said they saw the grandparents more than the parents.

“We never really saw the baby much,” she said. “To think it’s happening so close by, it kind of goes to show behind closed doors, you never really know what happens.”

Wood is a mom to a 4-month-old. She said hearing what Nichols’ baby went through is awful.

“It’s kind of shocking, to be honest. It’s kind of like, why?” she said. “You don’t know what kind of effects that poor kid is going to have later on.”

Nichols is expected to appear back in court on June 16th. 

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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