A BRAVE waitress helped snare two suspected child abusers whose baby appeared “black and blue” – by getting other customers to help.
Jordan Cooper, 21, and her colleagues have been hailed as potential heroes after raising the alarm when Mark Lee Pierce, 33, and girlfriend Jessica Woodworth, 36, came in for dinner in Paducah, Kentucky.
The quick-thinking server said the pair entered with a 20-month-old baby girl who had “a face that said ‘help'”, she told WPSD.
Jordan, who works at a branch of Olive Garden, added: “I can’t even describe to you how bad she looked and how and why nobody noticed it.”
The waitress, who is herself eight months pregnant, was further alarmed when a blanket over the child’s head was removed – revealing her alleged injuries.
Pierce then allegedly began force-feeding the distressed toddler who was squirming in her high chair, Jordan claims.
She told Yahoo Lifestyle the man “shoved bread sticks into her mouth and said, ‘You’d better eat this’ and got in her face while she whimpered.”
Jordan and her stunned colleagues then decided to take action – by asking customers at a neighbouring table to help them stage a photo.
She slipped the second couple her phone number and quietly asked them to request a waiter take their photo.
The co-worker then used the chance to take a snap of Pierce and Woodworth at the next table without alerting them.
This photo was then sent to Jordan by the second couple – which she later put on Facebook along with what she witnessed.
Jordan finally decided to intervene when she allegedly noticed Pierce taking the baby to the men’s bathroom for the third time during their meal – without carrying a nappy bag.
She asked him what he was doing, which prompted the man and his partner to quickly request the bill and leave, she says.
Jordan then followed them out to the car and took down their licence plate.
She added: “They drove away so fast, the mom didn’t even strap the baby into her car seat.”
After contacting the police and the Department of Children and Family Services, the couple were arrested in neighbouring Tennessee.
Posting about her experience on Facebook along with the image of the group, Jordan wrote: “Tonight working at Paducah Olive Garden, I had a couple that came in with a child that was severely beaten in the face. Her face was black and blue all over.
“The guy in this picture was force feeding her food down her throat and grabbing her by her shirt and getting in her face… I couldn’t serve because my heart hurt so bad.”
The post was shared 14,000 times and Cooper says her “phone would not stop going off” – prompting her to later delete the post once police confirmed they were investigating.
Detectives say they found the baby living in squalid conditions with bruises from her jawline to her hairline.
They arrested Pierce and Woodworth on suspicion of child abuse.
Jordan added: “I heard the conditions of the home were so horrific, a police officer had to collect himself outside.”
Child Services took the baby and another child into care after the infant visited the hospital for checks.
Woodworth, of Pulaski, Illinois, and Pierce were being held yesterday on child abuse and neglect charges on $200,000 bond.