Toddler beaten savagely and left to die while mom went shopping

Nov 7, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. ET
Image: CBS Philly

Before reading this story, please brace yourself. The details are enough to break anyone's heart.

On Tuesday night, the Chester County Police Department responded to an emergency call, reporting that 3-year-old Scott McMillan was in cardiac arrest. When they arrived, they found the young boy lying helplessly on a deflated air mattress, and though they tried to revive him, the toddler was pronounced dead en route to the hospital.

It would be tragic enough if the story ended there, but it doesn't. As more details of the toddler's death were released, horrifying insights of his final moments emerged.

According to investigators, the events leading up to Scott's death began on Sunday morning when the boy refused to eat his breakfast. After that, young Scottie and his 6-year-old brother Ryan were repeatedly beaten by his mother, 31-year-old Jillian Tait, and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Gary Fellenbaum.

In a press statement, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said, "Gary Fellenbaum and Jillian Tait tied the two boys up by their feet over a door and beat them. While they were doing that, they were laughing."

He went on to explain that Scottie was whipped with a metal curtain rod, as well as a separate homemade weapon; punched in the head, stomach and other areas of his body; and bashed repeatedly into the walls. Worst of all, when the child would lose consciousness, his abusers would drag his limp body into the shower, turn on the water to revive him and then begin the entire process again.

When the water ceased to revive him, Hogan reported that Tait and Fellenbaum didn't call for help, instead they left the toddler on the deflated mattress while they went shopping and grabbed a pizza.

The couple and Tait's two boys were living with Amber Fellenbaum, Gary's estranged wife, and her 11-month-old daughter. It was Amber who eventually found the helpless boy, and dialed 911.

Both Fellenbaum and Tait have been arrested, and are facing charges of first-degree murder. The other children also living in the home have now been placed into foster care. Amber Fellenbaum, who is said to have known that the children were being abused, is reportedly facing child endangerment charges. And District Attorney Hogan made it very clear the type of justice he will seek. "They killed a child under the age of 12 and torture. We will seek the death penalty in this case."

The preliminary hearing for the case will be held sometime next week.

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