Waitress Sees Parents With Baby 'Beaten in the Face' Force-feeding Sobbing Child, Gets Them Arrested

Police have charged two parents with child abuse, after a waitress noticed their 20-month-old child appeared to have been "beaten in the face."

Olive Garden waitress Jordan Cooper was working a shift at a branch in Paducah, Kentucky, when she spotted a young child with a "black and blue" face, she wrote in a Facebook post seen by NBC affiliate WPSD Local. Paris Police Department Captain Ricky Watson told Wenk WTPR the infant was 20 months old.

Cooper wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post she saw a man "force-feeding her [the child] food down her throat and grabbing her by her shirt and getting in her face." She told Yahoo Lifestyle the father shoved breadsticks into his daughter's mouth, and told her "you'd better eat this" and got in her face while she whimpered.

"He kept taking her to the bathroom when she cried and acting very aggressive towards her," she wrote on Facebook.

In a bid to document the scene, the server's colleague took a photo of another table of guests, making sure to capture the man and woman and what appeared to be their two children in the background, Cooper told Yahoo Lifestyle.

The waitress told WPSD the parents seemed to become suspicious, and left. Cooper then snapped a photo of their car number plate and contacted the police and the Department of Children and Family Services.

"They drove away so fast, the mom didn't even strap the baby into her car seat," Cooper told Yahoo Lifestyle.

"I couldn't serve because my heart hurt so bad," she wrote on Facebook.

Officials who carried out a welfare assessment said the baby's face was dotted with bruises from her hairline down to her jaw, Yahoo Lifestyle reported.

After Cooper shared the photo on Facebook, her childhood friend and Metropolis 911 dispatcher Aaron Caldwell set about tracking down the pair, he told WPSD. He identified the couple as Mark Lee Pierce, 33, and his girlfriend Jessica Woodworth, 36, from Pulaski, Illinois, and contacted the authorities.

Derrek Colley, investigator for Paris Police Department, told Wenk WTPR he advised the couple to take the child to Henry County Medical Center, where they were later detained.

Paris Police Department charged Pierce and Woodworth with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Colley told Wenk WTPR Cooper "did an outstanding job."

"If she hadn't noticed something and done all that, we wouldn't have gotten the information," he said.

The pair were each handed $200,000 bonds. The investigation is ongoing.

 Mark Lee Pierce Jessica Woodworth
Police arrested Mark Lee Pierce and Jessica Woodworth for child abuse and aggravated assault. Paris Police Department