Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Bronx Day Care Worker Arraigned in Toddler's Death

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An employee at a Bronx day care is being held without bail after her arraignment on charges she beat a baby boy to death last week.

Police say Athena Skeeter, 40, is facing charges of manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.

On Friday, police say they were called out to a South Bronx family day care center on College Avenue, where they found 20-month-old Cardell Williamson struggling to breathe.

Police began CPR and took the child to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the incident Monday, saying Cardell's death was a "real tragedy."

"As a parent it is very painful to me to think about the loss of this child and what the family is going through right now and we are going to do a very full investigation and we are going to look for anything we can learn from it," the mayor said. "Our obligation is make sure each and every site is safe so we want to find out what happened here and see if we have to make any changes as a result."

According to the criminal complaint, Skeeter told police she was "wrestling" with Cardell on her bed. The complaint says Skeeter told the arresting officer, "I lifted him by one arm and one leg and threw him to the floor. The floor was hardwood. I stepped on his stomach three times. I didn't use full force."

After a while, Skeeter told police Cardell threw up and couldn't walk on his own, so she tried to revive him in a bathtub.

According to the complaint, she said, "I step out of the bathroom to put the chair outside...I turned around and Cardell was slumped over with his head in the water and steam was coming out of the water."

The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and said the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and torso.

Cardell's father, Carlyle, told NY1 he had been sending his son to the day care center for a couple of months, five days a week, every day at 6 a.m.

"He's a happy little boy. He's outgoing, very friendly," Carlyle Williamson said. "He's a loving child. He's my heart, my last son, and I'm sorry I lost him. There's not too much I can say, you know. He died too early for no reason at all. I wish he's in a better place right now, but I want him to be with me."

Carlyle Williamson says he had noticed some bruises on his son before, "but I expected that for a little boy 1 years old always climbing on stuff."

"He was a loving little boy, and he was just very loving. Loving little boy," said Tamaika Pack, the boy's godmother.

The day care is licensed out of Skeeter's home.

"She's been doing it for 18 years. She's licensed and everything," said Janet Riley, a neighbor of Athena Skeeter. "They don't have no complaints from nobody. She watch all these kids around here."

A makeshift memorial on display outside Cardell's home on College Avenue continues to grow.

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