9-Year-Old Ind. Boy Who Pleaded 'Please Stop' Is Beaten to Death, Mom and Her Spouse Charged
Following the violent death of a 9-year-old Indiana boy on Saturday, the child's mother and stepmother have been charged.
Police say Elijah Thomas Ross, of Fort Wayne, died Saturday after he was beaten by his stepmother, Alesha Lynn Miller, 30.
According to a probable cause affidavit released Wednesday, the boy's mother, Jenna Mae Miller, 36, who is Alesha's spouse, told investigators that on the night the boy died, Alesha had "repeatedly" beaten her son with a wooden paddle as he screamed "Please stop," FOX 55 and WANE 15 report.
Alesha was arrested on Tuesday on four charges: aggravated battery resulting in death, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and two counts of neglect of a dependent.
Jenna has also been arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent causing death, neglect of a dependent by failing to render medical aid as well as two counts of neglect of a dependent, per FOX 55.
The Fort Wayne Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
According to the affidavit, the Millers initially told police they were at a Christmas party Friday night when they got a call informing them Elijah had been shoved into a bookcase while fighting with his siblings.
Jenna said that when she went upstairs in their Fort Wayne home, she found Elijah was not breathing and had vomited, according to the affidavit. The affidavit, which was also obtained by Fort Wayne's NBC, states Elijah was "cold and limp" when he and his mother arrived at the hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after 2 a.m. on Saturday.
In the affidavit, doctors reported "multiple bruises" on the boy's arms, face and shoulders as well as "major" bruising on his lower back and rear end.
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The affidavit also alleges that Alesha hit Elijah with a broken paddle.
In an interview with police on Monday, one of Elijah's brothers said Alesha "went hard" on the little boy and would do things like "slam him to the ground" and "whoop him with the paddle," WANE 15 reports. The affidavit states Elijah was subjected to this kind of treatment on multiple occasions.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to cover funeral costs for Elijah and any other expenses such as supporting the boy's two brothers. More than $4,700 dollars have been raised toward the $20,000 goal.
Alesha is due back in court on Dec. 29 for a hearing, per WANE 15.
It was not immediately clear if either suspect has entered pleas to the charges against them or retained counsel.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.