LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) – Police video of an unrelated traffic stop recorded two weeks before Colton Turner’s body was recovered from a shallow grave show the demeanor of his 20-year-old mother Meagan Work and her longtime boyfriend Michael Turner, who is also Colton’s namesake.
The video shows police in Leander stopping Turner around 5 a.m. on Aug. 27 for allegedly making an illegal right-hand turn at Osage Drive and U.S. Highway 183. He was driving Work’s 1998 green pickup truck in which Work was a passenger.
The officer’s body camera recording obtained through an open records request contains a portion where Michael Turner — in handcuffs and about to be taken to the Williamson County Jail on a parole violation warrant — asks the officer if he can “get a hug” from Work, whom he described as his common-law wife. The two embraced for 15 seconds before the officer indicated it was time for Turner to leave with the police. Visibly upset, as he was led away, Work told Turner she loved him.
Turner didn’t have his license on him because he said his wallet had been stolen, but officers knew him from numerous other contacts, the accompanying police report shows. They confirmed who he was by matching the social security number he gave officers with the one on file.
“Michael, you know we have a (warrant for) motion to revoke, right?” asked Cpl. Aaron George.
Turner acknowledged the officer and cooperated with them as officers accused him of being nervous during their questioning.
“You’re pretty confident you’re taking him to jail?” Work asked George.
“More than likely,” he responded. “You know he’s got a warrant, he knows he’s got a warrant, and he’s going (to jail) on the warrant.”
After their goodbye hug, the video shows Turner mouthing words like “It’s OK” to Work. A tearful Work is seen on the officer’s camera blowing kisses to Turner before she walks back to her pick-up truck. This scene unfolded two weeks prior to when Cedar Park police detectives responded to a tip about photos of 2-year-old Colton with apparent injuries that had been posted on his mother’s Facebook page. Friends of Work’s told authorities they had not seen him since July.
KXAN also found records showing the arrest of Turner and Work on July 12, 2012.
Police in-car video shows Leander police taking then 18-year-old Meagan Work to be booked at the Williamson County jail on an animal cruelty charge – a misdemeanor.
Earlier that day Michael Turner had also been arrested on the same charge and bonded out. The Leander Police report showed the couple was being booked separately because they were responsible for ‘an infant child at the home’ in Cedar Park they rented. At the time, Colton would have been 9-months-old.
A month prior, animal control officers were called to a rural property belonging to a friend of Turner’s mother, records show. He and Work kept a 6-year-old horse named Rasha there. Records show the animal suffocated after its lead rope became entangled in the cut limbs of a small tree.
As she was being brought to jail to be booked on the charge, Work told the officer driving her, “I’ve got this animal cruelty thing on my record. And my whole life I’ve always loved animals. I want to be an animal police officer when I get older. Crazy, huh?”
In 2013, court records show the charge was dismissed.
Records from Leander’s animal control officer also show when Work and Turner first brought the horse to the city, officers were called out to the Lion Drive address several times by citizens concerned for the horse’s safety.
“Usually it was in regards to them tying the horse to a telephone pole and leaving it there,” officers Helen Garrett and Lecia Watson wrote. “We were also called for it dragging a long rope around the yard.”
Garrett wrote she was also aware of a previous case of animal cruelty involving another horse which belonged to Work. “In that case, the animal was seized for starvation, and her father, Sidney Work, was arrested and convicted.”
Two weeks after she bonded out of jail, court records show a CPS case worker visited the couple’s Cedar Park apartment on July 27, 2012. The employee was there investigating an abuse complaint involving Colton. A CPS review shows the case was closed later that summer after the caseworker found no injuries on Colton. It was also noted Colton’s parents were drug-free and the home was in good condition.
However, that wasn’t be the last abuse complaint. A review report made public last September by Child Protective Services shows there were six complaints of possible neglect or abuse dating back two years. Four investigations were launched, but CPS workers bungled the work, failing to follow-up on complaints within the mandated 60 days, including one where there were photographs, the report showed.
After their September arrests in connection with Colton’s death, Turner and Work remain in the Travis County jail facing felony charges related to injury to a child.