Ridgeville parents speak out after baby’s dog-mauling death
RIDGEVILLE — Quintin McGrew not only worries about getting his two surviving children back and moving past the criminal case against him, but also about a future here in his hometown.
“We really can’t go anywhere,” he said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Post and Courier. “I can’t go to the grocery store now.”
As his wife explained, Ridgeville is one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” towns in Dorchester County. People here won’t soon forget the television trucks and the accompanying scrutiny after the couple’s foster dog mauled their 2-month-old baby to death in their mobile home on April 20.
S.C. Department of Social Services investigators placed the McGrews’ 7-year-old daughter, Samantha, and 2-year-old son, Robert, with relatives. Dorchester County sheriff’s investigators later arrested 28-year-old Quintin McGrew on a charge of unlawful conduct toward a child.
His wife, Chantel, had taken Samantha to a doctor’s appointment the morning of the attack. Quintin, who runs a home computer-repair business, had been asleep with Robert in another room, authorities said.
Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet determined that parental neglect played a role in baby Aiden’s death, and ruled the case a homicide by “animal eating.”
Chantel McGrew, 23, delivers pizza at night. She worked through her ninth month of pregnancy and returned to the job just two weeks after giving birth to Aiden on Valentine’s Day.
She worried about shady deliveries on dark streets, but now bears a new concern. “After they close the door and go to start eating, I wonder if they say, ‘Oh, that was the girl who was on the news,’?” Chantel said Tuesday.
She called 911 the morning that she came home to find her baby bloody and dying on the living room floor. She appeared in court in support of her husband after his arrest nearly two weeks later.
“I need to do what I need to do,” she said.
That includes staying with Quintin, despite pressure from family members to choose otherwise.
“I’m 100 percent behind him,” she said. “No matter what happens, I’m not going to go anywhere else. That’s my best friend. I’m not going to lose him.”
The couple met five years ago through Quintin’s cousin. They exchanged emails over Facebook and married in their backyard in Moncks Corner three years ago.
“I can be down and just look at him and be happy,” Chantel said.
She helped care for Samantha, a stepdaughter who calls her “Mommy,” early in her relationship with Quintin. She had a tubal ligation after Aiden, their third child.
The family watches movies together, most frequently “Shrek,” which Samantha kept beside the DVD player. They take trips to Riverfront Park in North Charleston and, when they can, they go out to dinner together.
The McGrews took in Bo, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever mix, after a friend’s son became allergic to the family pet. They planned to make the dog’s stay a temporary visit until they found a permanent home for Bo, but Quintin decided to keep him.
The couple said Bo came without cautions and that, after growling for a few days at the family’s 10-year-old yellow Lab, Lucky, he seemed to fit in.
Authorities said Bo dragged Aiden from a bouncy swing in the family’s living room and killed him. State officials euthanized the dog.
Now, Quintin and Chantel McGrew suffer in the silence of an empty house. They wait for chances to talk to their children on speakerphone, wondering what they think happened to their family.
“Samantha did a number on me yesterday,” Chantel said. “She said, ‘Mommy, when is the judge going to decide for you to come back?’?”
The McGrews continue to work with Quintin’s defense attorney, Andy Savage, to reclaim custody of their children.
When that happens, Chantel said, “I’m not going to let them step foot out the door without holding their hands.”
Chantel wears some of her youngest child’s ashes inside a teddy bear locket around her neck. Nearly 100 people came to Summerville Cemetery and Mausoleum to mourn Aiden, not knowing that authorities would charge his father in his death.
Quintin said he considered arrest a remote possibility — until the day detectives called to tell him that they had a warrant and that he needed to come turn himself in.
“I was devastated,” McGrew said.
His attorney, Savage, advised McGrew not to discuss specifics of the charge.
McGrew wound up in a jail cell with two other men for about five hours, before a magistrate judge released him on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.
Asked what happened in his brief time behind bars, McGrew said, “Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I slept.”
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allyson jbird.