Malachi Lawson was reported missing on Aug. 1, according to a Baltimore Police Department statement, sparking an “immediate and aggressive search” involving members of the community and the FBI.
Police said in an update on Saturday that the boy’s mother, Alicia Lawson, admitted to authorities that her son was not missing but was, in fact, dead.
The little boy’s body was found in a dumpster shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday, police said, adding that it bore “obvious signs of injury.” The police did not elaborate on the type of injuries the boy had suffered.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference Saturday, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Malachi’s mother, Alicia Lawson, 25, and her partner, Shatika Lawson, 40, will face charges in connection with the child’s death.
“Last night, after extensive interviews with Malachi’s mother, she confessed that her son was not missing but deceased. She subsequently gave detectives the location of the child’s remains, which were in the 5500 block of Haddon Avenue,” Harrison said. “The biological mother and her partner will be charged with child neglect resulting in the death of a minor.”
Harrison added that Malachi’s body had been taken to the medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death.
Police, cited by WBAL-TV, said that later on Saturday, Alicia and Shatika Lawson were both charged with neglect resulting in the death of a minor, first-degree child abuse, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence and false statement.
“This was extremely shocking to the community,” Harrison said during the conference. “I’d like to thank everyone who dropped what they were doing to help us try to locate him. This was a communitywide effort.”
In an earlier statement on Friday, Harrison said the little boy walked with a limp because one of his femurs was broken when he was an infant. Baltimore Police Detective Donny Moses added that officers were told that the child may have been on the autism spectrum.
The FBI issued a statement, saying that the agency “shares in the sorrow the Baltimore community is feeling today regarding the news about Malachi.”
The FBI shares in the sorrow the Baltimore community is feeling today regarding the news about Malachi. We would like to join our partners at the @BaltimorePolice and thank everyone for their assistance since his disappearance on Thursday. https://t.co/FR2I8oxdq7
— FBI Baltimore (@FBIBaltimore) August 3, 2019
In an earlier statement to WBAL-TV, Malachi’s great uncle, Mike Code, said of the little boy: “He’s quiet, he’s a lovable kid and likes to play a lot, and if anybody has seen him or knows about him, please bring him back.”
According to ABC News, about 100 volunteers took part in the search for Malachi.
“A lot of us are fathers,” said Heshie Klein, vice president of Operations for the Shomrim Safety Patrol, told Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR. “A lot of us are grandfathers and you have a 4-year-old child missing, defenseless. It struck a nerve.”
Facts About Crime in the United States
Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).
The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.
The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.
The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend.
Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.