12-Year-Old Jacen Pearson Charged in his Step-Father's Death, May Have Been Abused

(John Gaps III/Des Moines Register)
CHARITON, Iowa (CBS/AP) Jacen Pearson, the 12-year-old boy who police say shot his stepfather in the chest, and wounded his 5-year-old half-sister, has been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of willful injury on Friday morning.

Photo:Peek residence south of Chariton on Thursday.

Police say that Officials say police and Lucas County sheriff's deputies responded to a shooting in Chariton, IA, about 55 miles south of Des Moines, late Wednesday afternoon. When they arrived, they found the body of 37-year-old Tod Peek, he had been shot in the chest. They also found 5-year-old Cheyanne Peek suffering from a gunshot wound.

Cheyanne Peek was taken to a Des Moines hospital. Hospital officials said they did not have information about her.

Officials say the boy was seen leaving the house after the shooting. He was later found about a half mile away.

But Pearson's grandmother, Shirley Pearson insists that her grandson was abused and terrorized by his step father, according to the Des Moines Register.

"All I can say is that I have tried for a number of years to get Jacen out of that house," Shirley Pearson told the paper, "Jacen was verbally abused by his stepdad a lot — a lot. There was some physical abuse, too, but DHS didn't think that was enough to get him out."

Police reports show a history of domestic disturbances at the home where the shooting occurred. In October of 2006, Tod Peek was charged with domestic assault against his wife, Sarah Peek, but those charges were later dismissed, according to CBS affiliate KCCI.

According to those same records, in November of 2006, Tod Peek was charged with violating a no-contact order. Sarah Peek was charged with aiding and abetting him. And in July of 2008, Jacen Pearson, then about ten-years-old, called police because his mother and stepfather were fighting. No charges were filed in that case either, according to the station.

Authorities said the boy's mother, Sarah Peek, was home at the time of Wednesday night's shooting. She was not hurt.

Pearson was transferred to Meyer Hall, a juvenile detention facility in Des Moines.