By Naomi Nix and Matt Walberg | Tribune reporter
A 22-year-old Maywood woman admitted she and her boyfriend beat her 1-year-old son with a belt and plastic hangers and left him to die on their bathroom floor, prosecutors said in court Saturday.
The couple then disposed of the child’s lifeless body in a backpack before devising an elaborate cover-up which included pretending that the child had been abducted, prosecutors alleged in court.
A Cook County judge ordered Lakeshia Baker, 22, held without bail. Michael Scott, 21, was held in lieu of $750,000 bail. Both are from the 300 block of South 10th Avenue in west suburban Maywood.
Baker, who had two black eyes, cried in court after a judge announced her bond. Sally Daly, spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, said Baker spells her first name differently at different times; it is spelled Lakeshia on her driver’s license.
According to prosecutors, Baker admitted to authorities that on Monday, April 15 she beat her 1-year-old son, Bryeon Hunter, with a belt while Scott covered the child’s mouth so that his grandmother would not hear the baby scream or cry. She said Scott beat the baby’s body with plastic hangers.Baker says the beating happened in the bedroom, prosecutors said, but Scott said Baker beat the child in the bathroom.
Baker said the grandmother, who lived in another apartment in the same building, yelled: ” ‘What’s going on up there’ during the beating,” prosecutors alleged.
The next day, Tuesday, the toddler spent the morning lying on the bathroom floor with a bruised purple body, not moving, moaning and struggling to breathe, prosecutors said. At one point his lungs were not getting air and his body became limp.
“She stated she knew the baby was dying,” the prosecutor said.
Once the couple realized the child was dead, they devised a plan to dispose of the body and report that the child had been kidnapped, according to prosecutors.
Baker said Scott folded up the 1-year-old’s body and stuffed it into his book bag and left the apartment, according to prosecutors.
Baker said she cleaned up the apartment to rid it of evidence, including throwing out hangers and some towels, prosecutors said.
Baker said when Scott came back, he told her he had dumped the body at the water at First Avenue and Oak Street. But Scott told officials it was Baker who put the child in the backpack and said she told him she dumped the body in the river at 1st Avenue and Lake Street in Maywood near a McDonald’s restaurant, according to prosecutors.
The two locations are about two blocks apart, according to maps, and the Des Plaines River is close to both locations.
Police found a backpack that both Baker and Scott admitted was used to transport and dispose of the body, and clothing Baker described the child was wearing for the Amber Alert was folded inside the bag, Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Samp said in court.
Both Baker and Scott admitted to authorities that they made up a story that “three Hispanic males” abducted the child, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors alleged that the two called each other’s phones to make it look like they were not together and that Scott was trying to locate Baker. He said she threw her phone out of the window so it was broken, but she said he took it and hid it.
Baker made her 4-year-old son practice their story over and over in case he was questioned, prosecutors alleged.
Tuesday about 2:15 p.m., Scott called 911 to report an abduction of a 1-year-old child, according to prosecutors.
Police came to their home in Maywood, where Baker told the officers that she was walking with Bryeon to McDonald’s when she and her son were kidnapped, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, she told police they drove behind a Burger King, pulled her out of the car and beat her up. She was let go near 6th Avenue and Main Street, but the kidnappers kept her child.
Baker drove with police showing them where she said she was kidnapped and beaten. Baker was taken to Loyola University Medical Center to be treated for a black eye and facial injuries, prosecutors said.
At the hospital, Baker gave descriptions of the abductors and identified three suspects from a book of mug shots. But after a news channel published their names, one suspect turned himself in to police and the wife of another said the man was currently incarcerated, prosecutors said.
Baker went on live television to reiterate her abduction story, and police issued an Amber Alert, prosecutors said, and Maywood police and fire searched abandoned buildings, dumpsters, truck lots and industrial areas looking for the child.
But Baker later admitted the story was a ruse, prosecutors said.
The incident was part of a long pattern of abuse inflicted on the child by the couple, prosecutors alleged.