Murder USA: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Mama Will Swing You Till You Die
Medical Examiner rules child died due to being starved and kept out in cold night air; Judge refused to yank child away from mom who dad said was acting strange
LA PLATA, MD. — The death of a toddler found being pushed on a swing by his mother after he had died has been ruled to be a murder, according to Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry.
Sheriff Berry reports that Charles County Sheriff’s detectives are continuing their investigation into the death of Ji’Aire Donnell Lee, 3, who was found deceased last month at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata. On June 24, 2015, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled the manner of death a homicide and the cause of death dehydration and hypothermia.
The investigation started on May 22, at 6:55 a.m., when officers from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and La Plata Town Police responded to the park upon being notified of a woman who had been pushing a toddler in a swing for an unusually long period of time.
When officers arrived, they found Ji’Aire’s mother pushing him in the swing but Ji’Aire was deceased. There were no obvious signs of trauma. Ji’Aire’s mother, 24, was transported to a hospital for a mental evaluation.
The investigation showed Ji’Aire and his mother arrived at the park on Wednesday, May 20 at about 11:15 a.m. Ji’Aire, who was alive, was placed in the swing where he stayed until he and his mother were discovered.
Sheriff Berry reports that additional details are not available at this point and the case will be reviewed by the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The last person seen with the toddler is likely to be the person found by the investigation to be responsible for the medical conditions determined by the medical examiner to have caused his death. The Washington Post reported that the child’s father sought custody of the child prior to his death.
The New York Post reported: “The boy’s father, James “Donnell” Lee, sought custody of his son in March because he was concerned about Simms’ mental health. He claimed she had shown bizarre and dangerous behavior, such as jumping out of a moving taxi cab.
The parents agreed to split custody just 11 days before Ji’Aire’s death, with Lee saying in court that neither of them was “unfit” to handle the boy.”