A Newville man has been charged with the physical and verbal abuse of his 15-year-old adopted son, while his previously charged wife now faces additional abuse charges.

David A. Noreika, 48, faces charges of aggravated assault, strangulation, endangering the welfare of children and simple assault. His wife, Shelley M. Noreika, 47, has been charged with endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and harassment in the latest allegations. Shelley was arrested last month on reports that she allegedly kept the couple’s 6-year-old adopted daughter sick over the last five years in order to defraud the community out of donation money. Shelley was accused of reporting false illnesses that their daughter reportedly exhibited at home, including gastritis, cerebral palsy and seizures. The reports resulted in unnecessary and damaging surgeries for her daughter, according to doctors who suspected Shelley of Munchausen by proxy, a mental illness that causes a caregiver to fabricate illnesses in someone in their care, usually a minor or a disabled individual.

Police have not charged David in the case involving their daughter.

Abuse allegations

In a disturbing affidavit of probable cause filed in Magisterial District Judge Vivian Cohick’s office, the couple’s adopted teenage son made allegations of severe abuse against his adoptive parents to a third-party mandated reporter.

“The victim reported to this mandated reporter that when he began to be homeschooled in the fall of 2017, up until three or four weeks before he was hospitalized on May 16, 2020, at Southwood Psychiatric, the victim stated that he received very severe forms of punishment in the form of physical and verbal abuse,” the affidavit reads.

The boy told the reporter Shelley would hit him on the head many times with a wooden spoon, and for months, Shelley and David hit him with wiffle ball bats. The boy noted that his skin was often left raw where he was hit with the bats.

On one occasion, the boy said David poked him in the neck with a screwdriver so hard it left a scar. He was also pushed to the floor and punched so hard that his mouth swelled for a week. The injury also caused him to spit up blood. The boy reported that he had been punched on several occasions.

The boy also reported that he was verbally abused, and called worthless, and “all you are is a paycheck.” He said the Noreikas would also threaten to send him back to his biological mother’s care, where he also reported tremendous amounts of abuse.

The boy told the reporter he began to run away to escape the abuse and the environment, which is one of the reasons he was placed in Southwood.

On Jan. 14, 2021, a forensic interview was conducted with the boy at a child advocacy center in Northumberland County, where the boy noted the physical abuse began a year after the Noreikas adopted him and his siblings.

During the interview, the boy said he was hit with the wiffle ball bat by both parents, but usually by David.

He would sneak food into his room at night, and when he talked back to his father, David would punch him with a closed fist.

The boy also said there was no rhyme or reason to why or how David would punish them. He also said David strangled him two or three times because he wouldn’t stop talking back, and the boy couldn’t breathe or talk when David put his hands around his neck. 

On one occasion, the boy told them he hated it there, and David told him if he didn’t like the rules, he could leave. When he told them he wanted to leave, he said David punched him and knocked the wind out of him. He added he thought he would die because he couldn’t breathe, and it was terrifying.

The boy also said the Noreikas stopped going to family therapy, and he hasn’t spoken to his father in seven months. Shelley reportedly told the boy that David is mad and disappointed at him.

The boy said the abuse started with hurtful words to all of the four children, and they would tell him he was a waste of time and space.

The boy said he ran away three times to escape the abuse. He also said he hid a cell phone in his bedroom, and when Shelley took it from him, he told her he was going to hang himself, in which she replied, “Go ahead.”

The boy said he left the house and took a rope to hang himself, but decided instead to seek refuge in a nearby abandoned house.

On April 21, 2021, police interviewed Shelley’s biological daughter, who said David is her stepfather, at their home.

During the visit at the home, police said Shelley admitted to using a plastic wiffle ball bat to strike her adopted children “when they acted up,” and showed them the bat she keeps in her vehicle.

Shelley’s daughter told police that David has a temper, and said when she was about 15, David held her up against a wall so that her feet were off the floor, and squeezed, during an argument.

She also said David has punched walls when he’s gotten angry, and has hit Shelley twice.

Also in the affidavit, police listed some of the Google searches associated with Shelley’s account, obtained from a search warrant sent to Google on Feb. 19, 2021.

The records received on March 30, 2021, show the following searches from June and October of 2018:

-- “When grabbed by the throat what happened”

-- “Grabbed by the throat and starts acting goofy”

-- “Boy started convulsing after be grabbed by throat”

-- “What caused my husband to snap instantly when something is said”

-- “Does your partner have rage attacks? Here’s what to do”

-- “What does petechial look like”

-- “Domestic violence shelter Carlisle Pa”

-- “If you have a concussion what will the pupils look like”

Records also showed the following searches from March of 2019:

-- “Can an mri show head injury”

-- “What will an mri of the brain show”

-- “Can an mri show if someone was choked”

-- “Would choking someone show up a month ago on mri”

-- “How strangulation affects the brain -- domesticshelters.org

-- “Banging head off floor will it cause damage to show on mri”

-- “What do they look for on a brain mri”

-- “Abnormal left side brain eeg now mri order”

-- “Left side sharpness on eeg”

-- “The abnormal EEG”

Both David and Shelley Noreika have posted $50,000 unsecured bail each in the case. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for May 13.

Shelley previously posted $25,000 unsecured bail in the original charges against her. A preliminary hearing for those charges has been scheduled for May 6.

(1) comment

Frank Sterle Jr.

“It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (Childhood Disrupted, pg.228) …. A psychologically and emotionally sound (as well as a physically healthy) future should be every child’s foremost right, especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter. Also, since so much of our mental health comes from our childhood experiences, mental health-care should generate as much societal concern — and government funding — as does physical health, even though psychological illness/dysfunction typically is not immediately visually observable. Trauma from unhindered child abuse usually results in the vulnerable child's brain improperly developing. If allowed to continue for a prolonged period, it acts as his/her starting point into an adolescence and (in particular) an adulthood in which its brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines. In short, it can make every day an emotional/psychological ordeal, unless the mental turmoil is doused with some form of self-medicating.

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