Coroner rules Maryland toddler's death homicide

AP News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2015 3:50 PM
Coroner rules Maryland toddler's death homicide

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The death of a Maryland toddler who was brought to Ohio by his mother during a trip to see a high school friend has been ruled a homicide, a coroner said Friday.

Preliminary results of an autopsy on 1-year-old Cameron Beckford show he died of blunt force trauma to his chest and abdomen, said Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz.

Columbus police found Cameron's body in a bag in Big Walnut Creek on the city's east side on Wednesday.

The boy's mother, Dainesha Stevens, has been charged with endangering children and tampering with evidence. Her attorney says Stevens made up a story about leaving Cameron on a doorstep because she could not care for him and that was her way of asking for help.

It's unclear when the boy died. Stevens, 24, was arrested Tuesday because she failed to protect her son "by allowing an individual to violently spank him numerous times on several occasions," according to a police charging document filed Wednesday.

The discipline removed several layers of skin and caused the boy's buttocks to bleed, the document said.

Stevens also allowed the boy to be removed from the place where he was assaulted between Dec. 21 and 23 "to impair the investigation of a missing/homicide investigation" and concealed the boy's whereabouts, the document said.

Stevens took a bus to Columbus Dec. 15, the day after police were called to her Maryland home where she argued with the children's father, according to police in Frederick, Maryland.

Her attorney said Stevens had been staying with a male friend she knew as a teenager in Maryland. The man is being held on misdemeanor warrants unrelated to the toddler's disappearance. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien has said the goal is to keep the man in custody during the investigation.

A relative of the toddler said she is raising money to pay for his funeral and other expenses. Shamekia Chambers said Friday she launched the online effort to help her cousin Shawn Beckford, the boy's father.

The gofundme.com effort was established Thursday. It had raised $95 by Friday morning.

Chambers says on the fundraising page the family desires privacy while they grieve.

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Associated Press Writer David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Maryland, contributed to this report.