Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Cooper of Metropolis, Illinois is being hailed a hero after saving a helpless child from allegedly abusive parents.
When the waitress at a Paducah, Kentucky Olive Garden noticed a toddler covered in bruises at one of her tables, she was immediately concerned. The 20-month-old was seated next to a man, woman, and 11-year-old girl.
“The baby was sitting in a highchair with a blanket over her head,” said Cooper. “When the blanket came off, her face had a lot of black-and-blue bruises.”
“I first walked around to the baby. She looked at me with a face that said ‘help,'” she added. “I can’t even describe to you how bad she looked and how and why nobody noticed it.”
As she started to pay closer attention, the eight-months-pregnant server noticed that the man was being aggressive toward the little one and force-feeding her bread.
“He shoved breadsticks into her mouth and said, ‘You’d better eat this’ and got in her face while she whimpered,” Cooper told Yahoo Lifestyle.
A mother herself, Cooper’s heart couldn’t help but break over the scene she was witnessing.
She alerted coworkers to the disturbing situation taking place, and one colleague helped capture a photo of the family while taking a group shot for another table.
“My colleague zoomed in on the family and asked her customers to text us the photos,” said Cooper. “It was a team effort.”
Her coworker had discreetly slipped the unsuspecting customers a note asking them to send the photo to Cooper’s phone upon leaving the restaurant.
Cooper also noticed that the man went to the bathroom with the toddler twice without bringing a diaper bag. The third time, the waitress followed closely behind and asked, “What are you doing?
Alarmed, the man quickly left the bathroom and asked for the check.
“I said, ‘Well, I guess I’m leaving too!'” recalls Cooper.
She quickly darted outside to jot down the family’s license plate number.
“They drove away so fast, the mom didn’t even strap the baby into her car seat,” said the 21-year-old.
Though she already alerted police and the Department of Children and Family Services, Cooper still couldn’t put her mind at ease, so she took to Facebook with all the information she had on the unsettling encounter that night, along with the photo her colleague had taken.
Thankfully, Aaron Caldwell, a Metropolis 911 operator saw the message and sent necessary contact information to the Police Department in Paris, Tennesse, where the couple resides.
That same day, the couple identified as 33-year-old Mark Lee Pierce and 36-year-old Jessica Woodworth [was] taken into custody on charges of aggravated assault and child abuse. When police entered the home, they found the 20-month-old sleeping in a bedroom with bruises covering her face from jawline to hairline.
“I heard the conditions of the home were so horrific, a police officer had to collect himself outside,” said Cooper.
The baby was rushed to the ER, after which both kids were taken into custody by the Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
Pierce and Woodworth are in Henry County jail and are held on $200,000 bond each.
“I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so worried. It makes me feel good to know these children will be better off,” said Cooper, later adding, “My heart can now be at rest. Thank you to everyone who helped me find these terrible people!”