Uncle accused of burning sister's 3 kids with lit cigarettes

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- An uncle has been arrested for allegedly burning three of his nieces and nephews with lit cigarettes.

Jeffery A. Marshall, 26, is being held in the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of 2nd degree assault of a child.

The children's grandparents noticed the burn marks when their 9-year-old and 22-month-old grandsons came for a visit to their home and filed a report. A subsequent investigation by CPS at the children's home found evidence of abuse with their 5-year-old sister as well, court documents said.

"He's left all kinds of marks, head to toe, and these kids don't deserve that," said the children's grandfather, who we are not identifying. "They're harmed for the rest of their life."

Charging documents show Marshall confessed and claimed to have burned all three children with lit cigarettes out of anger. Prosecutors said investigators counted at least 10 burn marks on the two oldest children in various stages of healing. The oldest boy told detectives of several occasions when Marshall burned him with lit cigarettes on his feet and legs, and claimed his uncle burned his sister's feet while she slept on the couch, and his younger brother's finger while he was in a bouncy seat, prosecutors wrote.

Their grandparents suspect it's been happening for a long time.

"My theory is that (the oldest grandson) has been tortured since he was about 3- or 4-years-old, maybe sooner," the grandmother said.

They say they don't understand how such a thing could go unnoticed.

"I mean, that's hard... when your sister has kids and you hurt them -- what's your family going to think?" the grandfather said.

The kids are now safe with their father who lives out of state.

"I'm just sad because you had to go through the pain and I wasn't there to save you," the grandmother said. "And I just keep thinking about what they went through."

The kids' grandfather says he cherished the kids. "They are everything to me... Why couldn't he be like that? He's a grown man, he's gotta take it out on children? I have no respect for somebody like that."

Marshall remains held in lieu of a $250,000 bond.