A Philadelphia mother and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with the brutal beating death of the woman’s four-year-old son, whom the couple punished for spilling his cereal, police say.
Lisa Smith, 19, and Keiff King, 26, were arrested after a medical examiner ruled that the child died from extensive blunt force trauma, the Daily Mail reported.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele filed the charges after the autopsy showed little Tahjir Smith’s January 22 death was the result of a beating so violent, the child was not able to breathe afterward.
“Unfortunately, today is too late for Tahjir,” Steele told the media. “This was a violent, sustained beating of a four-year-old that caused his death.”
A police investigation charged that Smith, who is pregnant, and King beat the child with their hands and a flip flop and that the beatings were so forceful, the pattern of the shoe was embedded in the boy’s skin.
“[They struck] his body so hard there were pattern imprints on the boy’s buttocks when the police were finally called,” the DA said.
The child also had broken bones and a series of burn marks on his body. Police said Smith scalded him with hot water during the beating.
The child’s mother tried to explain her son’s condition away as a medical problem that left his legs “wobbly.”
Investigators also discovered that the couple’s living conditions were “deplorable,” stating, “There were insects and roaches in the house.”
Neighbors were shocked by the news.
“Somebody who would do that is an animal, to do that to your own child and to allow someone else to do that to your child is unthinkable,” neighbor Chris Evans told Philly 3.
The pair was charged with first degree murder, which excludes eligibility for bail in the state of Pennsylvania.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.