BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Malachi Lawson, the 4-year-old Baltimore boy who was initially reported missing by his mother, suffered from severe, untreated burns before he died, according to charging documents.

Malachi’s mother, 25-year-old Alicia Lawson, and her 40-year-old partner Shatika Lawson were arrested Saturday and charged with 11 counts each — including involuntary manslaughter, first-degree child abuse, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence and giving false statements.

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Alicia initially told police she had left Malachi alone on his grandmother’s porch in the 4500 block of North Rogers Avenue Thursday. When she returned he wasn’t there and a search began for the reportedly missing boy.

Volunteers from several area community groups and religious organizations spent all day Friday searching for the boy.

But on Saturday, police announced charges against Alicia and Shatika for neglect. Police said while questioning Alicia she confessed Malachi was dead and took police to a dumpster 10 miles from her home. That’s where police said Malachi’s body was found.

Charging documents made available Monday described the gruesome details of Malachi’s last few hours alive.

The women said they were giving Malachi a bath on July 23 after he soiled himself, according to the documents. While they were washing his clothes in the sink, they allegedly turned around to find the boy had serious burns from his waist down to his feet. The burns were so bad, Malachi’s skin was allegedly floating in the bathwater when they pulled him from the tub, according to the charging documents.

But police tested the water temperature at the Lawsons’ home in the 1800 block of North Spring Street Saturday and the temperature never got above lukewarm.

Instead of seeking medical attention for the 4-year-old, the couple decided they would treat the burns on their own, “due to the fear that the child would be taken from them. They would get in trouble for what had happened to the child and their past history with Child Protective Services.”

So they didn’t call 911 or take him to an emergency room.

But on the morning of Aug, 1, Alicia woke up and found Malachi laying a “puddle of wetness.” She thought he was dead as he was unresponsive, according to charging documents, so she wrapped her son up into a blanket and called a Lyft.

The Lyft took her 10 miles from their home to the 5500 block of Haddon Avenue where she put Malachi’s body into a black trash bag, tied it closed and then put her son’s body into the dumpster.

The FBI looked at Alicia’s cell phone browsing history and found searches for trash collection sites.

On Friday, police responded to the 5500 block of Haddon Avenue and found Malachi’s deceased inside a trash bag.

Shatika said she placed Malachi into the tub of water, but neither woman sought medical attention for Malachi during the 10 days he was allegedly injured, according to court documents. “instead seeking to hide his injuries for the sake of their own wellbeing, which resulted in his death.”

During an autopsy Saturday, the boy’s burns were consistent with what Alicia told police and looked like the burns she had photographed on July 23.

The couple’s bond was denied during a bail review hearing Monday afternoon. The judge determined they were both flight risks.

 

Rachel Menitoff

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