Authorities say a young Florida boy who died after he was severely injured was murdered, but the circumstances of the death remain under investigation and no arrests have been made, WTLV-TV reports.
Last week, 4-year-old James Reese was brought to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville with multiple broken bones and a skull fracture.
His injuries were so serious that the decision was made to take him off life support, so on Wednesday, Reese was baptized and had his ventilator removed.
“It’s the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed in my life,” the boy’s uncle, Christoper Nastasi, told WJXT-TV about the family’s decision to take the child off life support.
Exactly what happened to Reese has not been made public, except that there was an incident on April 15. A heavily redacted report shows that the incident occurred between 7:25 a.m. and 9 a.m. at a Jacksonville home. Someone started doing CPR on the child while emergency crews were summoned, according to the Florida Times-Union.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has classified the death as a murder, but no arrests have been made.
Doctors informed the family that the boy’s injuries likely were not the first that were inflicted, Nastasi said in an interview with WJXT-TV.
“Some of the fractures were old, like weeks-old fractures,” Nastasi told the television station.
Reese was among four siblings who were living with relatives as part of a “kinship placement,” which is similar to foster care except that the children live with people related to them, according to WTLV-TV.
The children were sent to live with the relatives a year ago.
“The removal was not due to negligence or abuse or drug use. It was due to the fact my sister was a victim herself – in an abusive relationship that was difficult for her to get out of,” Nastasi told WJXT-TV.
WTLV-TV contacted an adult in the kinship home, but that person declined to comment.
Lynn Salvatore, a former lawyer for Florida’s Department of Children and Families, told WTLV-TV that the child’s death raises serious questions.