Missing 14-month-old's body found in creek

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The body of a missing 14-month-old Maryland boy was found in an Ohio creek Wednesday after his mother allegedly lied to police that she had left him on a stranger's porch.

Officers mounted on horseback found the body of Cameron Beckford in a bag in Big Walnut Creek on Wednesday morning, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman.

Dainesha Stevens has not been charged in the boy's death but on Wednesday she was ordered held on $150,000 bond on related charges of endangering children and tampering with evidence.

Her attorney, Mark Collins, said she made up the story about having left the boy on a doorstep and that she tipped police to the creek where his body was found.

Police began to investigate after Stevens, 24, called 911 on Monday to say a family wouldn't return her 6-year-old daughter after she had agreed to let her go to their house to play with the kids.

After police found the girl safe, Stevens told police she and the friend with whom she was staying had left her son on a doorstop "because they could not care for him any longer," according to Columbus police.

It's unclear when the boy died. Stevens was arrested Tuesday because she failed to protect her son "by allowing an individual to violently spank him numerous times on several occasions," according to a police charging document filed Wednesday.

The discipline removed several layers of skin and caused the boy's buttocks to bleed, the document said.

Stevens also allowed the boy to be removed from the place where he was assaulted between Dec. 21 and 23 "to impair the investigation of a missing/homicide investigation" and concealed the boy's whereabouts, the document said.

Stevens had come to Columbus on Dec. 15 on a Greyhound bus, the day after police were called to her Maryland home where she argued with the children's father, according to police in Frederick, Maryland.

Collins said Stevens had been staying with a male friend she knew as a teenager in Maryland. The man was being held Wednesday on misdemeanor warrants unrelated to the toddler's disappearance.

"It's our goal to keep that man in custody pending further investigation by the police," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

Stevens made up the story about leaving the boy on a doorstep because she couldn't care for him and says that was her way of asking for help, Collins said Wednesday after the brief court hearing. Part of the story about the 6-year-old being missing was also made up, Collins said.

"There's reasons why she said what she said, but she's trying to do the right thing and that's what she did by helping yesterday and today," Collins said of the information Stevens provided about the creek. Stevens is on suicide watch, he said.

Cameron's 6-year-old sister, Cheyanne, was turned over to Franklin County Children Services. Police said Stevens had legal custody of both children. The girl's father planned to come to Columbus in hopes of bringing the girl home, Collins said.

A woman at an apartment believed to be the father's residence in Maryland, about 40 miles west of Baltimore, said he wasn't home and declined to answer more questions.


Dishneau reported from Frederick, Maryland.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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