Police: 3-year-old beaten to death - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Police: 3-year-old beaten to death


A 3-year-old visiting relatives in Waycross was rushed to the hospital over the weekend, when the woman who looking after him said he became unresponsive.

He died at the Mayo Clinic, and now the police have charged that same woman, Karena Warden, with murder.

Thursday morning, Karena Warden had her first appearance in front of a Waycross judge. He read Warden her charges, and then denied her bond and sent her to the Ware County jail.

Karena's husband, Larry, said for the past two months, he and his wife have been happily looking after three of their relative's children including the 3-year-old little boy.

"Anybody that knows Karena knows that she's not going to mistreat no kids." Said Larry Warden. "They got it in their heads that she beat that kid, and I know she didn't. I know she didn't."

The toddler, Malaichi Smith, is believed to be the godson of Karena's daughter. Larry Warden said all three children came down from Rockford, IL, with his wife's daughter. Saturday night, he was working when his wife took Malaichi to the hospital.

"I know he fell earlier in the week and busted his chin up underneath here," he said. 

The boy died at the hospital and Waycross police were called to investigate. According to them, an autopsy showed Malaichi had bruises consistent with abuse.

Larry Warden denies any wrongdoing on their part.

"We've never mistreated none of them kids," he said. 

Neighbors and witnesses said they saw the little boy throw violent tantrums from time to time, even beating his head against the ground.

Karena's arrest warrant said she punched and kicked the child in the head and body causing the bruises. It also said the boy was denied sleep and had been choked.

There is no word on Karena's next court appearance.

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