A mother of a 4-year-old boy with autism is charged with involuntary manslaughter after he died from untreated burns. Malachi Lawson, 4, was found dead in a dumpster last week and had severe, untreated burns all over his body.
According to a report by The Baltimore Sun, police found Malachi Lawson’s body in a dumpster on August 3. His mother, Alicia Lawson, reported him missing the day before. She told police that he wandered off the front porch.
After receiving the missing child report, police executed a widespread search for the boy. Police posted a missing and endangered child bulletin and urged people to help find the boy.
The FBI has joined the search for Malachi Lawson. Help the FBI & the @BaltimorePolice find this four year old boy. If you have any information call 443-984-7388. Please share. https://t.co/LOyQlmSEYp pic.twitter.com/wsxLyfBGvY
— FBI Baltimore (@FBIBaltimore) August 2, 2019
When search efforts failed to find the boy, Alicia Lawson confessed to police that she dumped his body in a dumpster. According to court records, Lawson told police that on July 23 her son soiled himself. Her wife, Shakita, placed the boy in the bath, and the two women cleaned him. Additionally, the women washed his dirty clothing in the sink.
Shortly after putting Malachi in the bath, the women noticed he had severe burns from his waist to his feet. According to the report, the women saw Malachi’s skin floating in the water.
In court, Shakita’s attorney, Roya Hanna, said the entire incident happened very quickly. Additionally, the attorney argued that neither woman intended to harm the child.
The mothers took photos of the boy’s burns. Rather than taking him to the hospital, the women decided to treat the injuries at home. Both women feared that the hospital would report them to CPS for the burns if they sought medical help.
“They both decided to not call 911 or seek any other type of medical assistance due to fear that the child would be taken from them, that they would get in trouble for what happened to the child and their past history with child protective services,” the charging documents said.
By August 1, Malachi’s burns had not improved. Alicia Lawson woke up that morning and found him unresponsive in a “puddle of wetness.” Rather than calling 911, Alicia Lawson wrapped her son in a blanket and called a Lyft driver.The mother had the driver take her nearly 10 miles away from their home. When she arrived at the destination, she placed her son in a trash bag, tied it up, and put him in a dumpster. A search of Alicia Lawson’s computer found that she searched for trash collection sights in her area on the day of his death.
After she returned home, Alicia Lawson contacted the police and reported her son missing. Police say she lied about his disappearance to cover-up her negligence related to his death.
“From the time of the child’s injury to the fabricated call to 911 neither Alicia or Shatika sought medical treatment for the child, instead seeking to hide his injuries for the sake of their own well being which resulted in his (Malachi’s) death,” the charging documents said.
When Alicia Lawson confessed to dumping her son’s body, police executed a search in her home. The mother claimed her son died from burns he obtained in the bathtub. However, authorities tested the water of the bath, and the water never got hotter than lukewarm.
An autopsy completed by the medical examiner determined Malachi died from complications related to the severe, untreated burns. Police obtained the photos of Malachi’s burns from Alicia Lawson that she took on July 23. The pictures matched the injuries described by the medical examiner.
Following the investigation, both women were charged with involuntary manslaughter, first-degree child abuse, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence and giving false statements.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles related to trending topics and crime on her column.
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