The Bartholomew County prosecutor has filed three formal felony charges — all of them drug-related — against 30-year-old Thomas Walter Gorski of Columbus, who remains under investigation in connection with the Nov. 25 death of 19-month-old toddler, Evan Jack McCue.
The formal charges against Gorski — possession of a controlled substance, reckless possession of paraphernalia and maintaining a common nuisance — were filed as the county courthouse was about to close Tuesday afternoon. All the charges carry a penalty of six months to three years in jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Gorski had a drug paraphernalia conviction 10 years ago, which raises the current charges to the felony level, police said. Gorski has been held in jail since this past week in connection with the McCue case, and the formal drug charges will keep him there unless he posts a $10,000 bond.
Prosecutors sought and received an extended hold on Gorski this past week, which was due to expire this morning. Prosecutors generally have to file charges within 48 hours of an arrest or a suspect is released from jail. However, they can also seek a 72-hour extension, which doesn’t include weekends.
A probable cause affidavit for the drug charges said police, while executing a search warrant at Gorski’s home in the early morning after Evan was found dead there, found drug paraphernalia, smoking devices, a metal marijuana grinder, rolling papers, pills, a bag of marijuana plant material and a white powder believed to be crushed hydrocodone (an active ingredient in the pain killer, Vicodin.)
Gorski told detectives “that he used to have a valid prescription, but had been buying them off the street within the past weeks.
He also admitted routinely smoking marijuana at the residence,” Columbus police investigator Sgt. Richard Howell said in a sworn affidavit filed in court.
Columbus police and other agencies have been investigating the death of Evan for the past week and a half since the little boy was found dead in the mobile home his mother shared with Gorski.
On Tuesday, a child’s toy car and other play things lay scattered on the rain-drenched porch at 2871 Lamplight Drive, the drab single-wide trailer where the toddler died Nov. 25.
Gorski had been living with the toddler’s mom, 21-year-old Rachel McCue, in the Candlelight Village mobile home park.
Columbus police and paramedics rushed to the home at 8:24 p.m. after the mother dialed 911 and told authorities her son was lifeless and didn’t appear to be breathing.
The toddler was pronounced dead later that night at Columbus Regional Hospital.
Preliminary autopsy results from the Bartholomew County coroner suggest the boy died of a head injury. Toxicology reports are also pending, police said Tuesday evening.
The formal drug charges represent the latest brush with the Bartholomew County court system for Gorski, a Columbus North high school graduate and ex-employee of ArvinMeritor, an auto parts manufacturer where he last worked in 2004.
In March 2011, Gorski, who remains married to a woman other than Rachel McCue, was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor harassment for allegedly threatening his wife’s father, Larry Geilker, concerning an unpaid utility bill.
Gorski was placed in a deferred prosecution program on that charge, and Superior Court Judge Kathleen Coriden dismissed it in May this year after he paid a little more than $300 in court costs.
Meanwhile, Gorski has been living apart from his wife — Laura Geilker Gorski, 29 — and their two children, a 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. She declined to comment Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, police said they are also investigating unspecified injuries to Laura’s 1-year-old daughter in an attempt to determine how they happened and who might be responsible.
The girl went through extensive tests this past week at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis but is now back with relatives in Columbus, her family said.
“There are injuries to that child, which raise obvious concerns,” Columbus police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
Laura Gorski had sought a protective order against her husband in July, saying she and her two children were at risk of domestic violence. But the case was dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence in Bartholomew County Superior Court.
A petition filed in support of the bid for protective orders at the time said Gorski had called his wife offensive names and taught their 3-year-old son to do the same in the presence of Rachel
The wife’s petition also said Gorski “smacked” their son on the back of his head, causing him to stumble and bruise his head against a kitchen cabinet.
Laura Gorski also said in her court petition that her husband once knocked her to the ground while they argued about a birth certificate, leaving bruises on her leg and elbow.
Coriden, who reviewed the woman’s protective order requests, threw them out as lacking in evidence, however.
Larry Geilker, the grandfather of Laura’s two children, said Tuesday the 1-year-old girl had been released in the past few days from Riley Children’s Hospital and her case is being reviewed by state child protection officials.
“We’re doing better,” the grandfather said, “and we’re cooperating with child protection (case workers).”
An attorney for the Indiana Child Protection Services declined in a letter delivered via email to address questions surrounding the death of McCue or any other children’s injuries.