Documents Detail Abuse in Fergus Falls

Published: Apr. 11, 2018 at 1:48 PM CDT
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Otter Tail County has released new details in the case against Bobbie Bishop and Walter Wynhoff. The two are being held on murder charges in relation to the death of six year old Justis Rae Burland.

A NOTE TO READERS: Some of the below text is graphic and disturbing, and is not appropriate for all readers. Please use discretion.

Newly released court documents paint a house of horrors in Fergus Falls, where six year old Justis Rae Burland was beaten and bound before he died.

Below is a timeline of events.

MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018:

Newly released court documents say Bishop brought Justis to Lake Region Hospital Monday, April 9. When he arrived, the six year old was wearing a soiled diaper and a plastic bag on one foot. Hospital staff say Justis was limp, cold, had no pulse, and was not breathing. They were unable to revive him.

Officers, who already happened to be at the hospital, noted that Justis’s appearance was “disturbing.” They say he had marks from head to toe, sores, cuts, and scratches all over. Hospital staff say the wounds were very infected. The officers also noted Justis’s hair was “blotchy” and looked as if parts of it had either been pulled out or stopped growing. According to the documents, officers also noticed a mark on his upper body which looked like it had been caused by a strap or restraint. The report says there were also scabs and scars on Justis’s face. His abdomen was hard, which hospital staff say could be related to internal injuries. There were also signs of injury from scalding water, or “water burn.”

Based on their observations, hospital staff say Justis looked neglected.

When questioning Bishop, officers were told Justis and his brother had been with her since August 9, 2017. That’s when Bishop says Norma Burland, her friend’s grandmother, turned them over to her. Bishop says Burland wasn’t able to take care of the boys due to their behaviors. She says the children were violent and “did weird things” when they first arrived. Bishop also told officers she would have the children stand in the corner, sit on the bed, or get spankings as punishment for bad behavior.

Bishop says around 3:30 AM on Monday, she noticed Justis wasn’t breathing. She told officers she tried to give him CPR, then yelled for Wynhoff to take them to the hospital.

Officers also met with Walter Wynhoff, who lived with Bishop and Justis at 333 Friberg Ave. Wynhoff told officers that on Sunday, Justis was in ‘time out’ on his bed from 11 AM to 6 PM for wetting it. According to Wynhoff, Justis returned to his bed at 7:30 PM and then fell asleep. Wynhoff says he woke up Monday morning to Bishop screaming because Justis wasn’t breathing, so he drove them to the emergency room.

Wynhoff also told officers Justis and his brother were spanked and forced to stand in corners for defiant behavior.He also said that the six year old was wearing a diaper because he believed Justis would soil his pants intentionally. Wynhoff also said Bishop would use a belt to discipline them, using four to six swats at a time. He says he saw Bishop use the belt 5 to 7 times since the children arrived in August.

When officers confronted Wynhoff about several of Justis’s sores, Wynhoff admitted the child needed medical attention, and he failed to provide it. He also said that within the last four to five days of his life, the six year old had been duct taped to the wall.

TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018:

Officers continued to question Bishop on April 10, when they say she admitted that discipline with the children had escalated after a Judicial Custodial Hearing on March 12. According to the report, Bishop admitted to having Wynhoff help her use duct tape to restrain Justis and spanking him with a belt about 20 times over the last month. Officers say, at one point Bishop said she “beat his ass” and knew she hit him too hard. The documents reveal that Bishop also admitted that she should have gotten Justis medical attention, saying, “I shoulda brought him in… I just didn’t want them to take him away.”

Bishop went on to say early Monday morning, when returning from Justis’s room, Wynhoff said he’d “never been so mad at a child” and that he’d slapped the six year old. Bishop told officers after that, she went to check on Justis, who was groggy, had slurred speech, and a red mark on the side of his face. At that point, Bishop says Justis handed her his tooth. She also told officers she saw a broken stick on the bed next to him. Officers later found two wooden pieces that tested positive for blood.

Bishop and Wynhoff both face five counts – second degree murder, first degree manslaughter, two counts of second degree manslaughter, and the malicious punishment of a child.