Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Custodial dad, step in custody for child abuse death of 5-year-old daughter (Port Huron, Michigan)

UNNAMED DAD. Not a word on what happened to the mother of this poor little girl.

POLICE: Dad, stepmom in custody after girl's death

Beth LeBlanc, Times Herald 5:57 p.m. EDT May 27, 2015

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Frank Hawkins got news no relative wants to hear. The Port Huron man sat on a stoop in front of 829 Oak St. after hearing that his five-year-old granddaughter — a child he described as "a beautiful little girl" — had died.

"I'm just in total shock," Hawkins said. "I need to go wake up my wife and tell her our granddaughter died."

Across the street, a boy wearing a backpack sat on his front porch and watched police come and go at the Oak Street home. And children walking to school or waiting for the bus looked around barricades to catch a glimpse of the home roped off with police tape.

A bouquet of flowers sat Wednesday afternoon in the yard of the home where five-year-old Mackenzie Lynn Maison was found unresponsive.

Police have said Mackenzie was malnourished, dehydrated, and had injuries consistent with child abuse, when rescue crews responded Tuesday night to calls of an unresponsive child at a home in the 800 block of Oak Street.

First responders took Mackenzie to St. Joseph Mercy hospital in Port Huron.

Medical staff were unable to resuscitate the girl and she was pronounced dead. Mackenzie's 27-year-old father and 25-year-old stepmother are being held by police on charges of second-degree child abuse.

Mackenzie's death is being investigated as a homicide, Port Huron Public Safety Director Michael Reaves said.

Charges in the case are pending the completion of the investigation and review by the St. Clair County prosecutor's office.

Two other children at the home were placed in foster care, Reaves said. A third child was taken to Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit for treatment for malnourishment. All of the children are under the age of 11.

"The shape of the kids was pretty bad," Reaves said. "Seasoned investigators looked at this and shook their heads."

Reaves said there had been minor calls at the home prior to Mackenzie's death.

"At this time we have not uncovered any history of ongoing CPS concerns at that residence or with those children," Reaves said.

He said Mackenzie's parents have indicated the children had a reluctance to eat.

The Port Huron Police Neighborhood Enforcement Team is leading the investigation. Units from the Port Huron Fire Department, St. Clair County prosecutor's office, and the Michigan State Police crime lab assisted in the investigation.

Theresa Hofer, the stepmother of the woman in custody, said the family is trying to wrap its mind around what happened.

"I never guessed in a million years this would happen," Hofer said. "We're just waiting for it to unfold, just like the public."

Hofer said Mackenzie was a friendly, loving and sweet child.

"She didn't deserve this," Hofer said.

Neighbors said they spent most of Tuesday night watching police respond to the home at 829 Oak St. Neighbors said they answered several questions about the the family that lives at the home.

"They pretty much kept to themselves," said Ben Gonzalez, who lives two doors down. "I didn't even know they had any little girls over there. ...I never expected anything to happen a few doors down."

Several neighbors said they seldom saw little girls at the home.

"You'd catch a glimpse of them every once in a while," said Karen Critchett, who lives across the street from 829 Oak St. "I'm kind of depressed. I can't believe that could happen to a little girl."

Elizabeth Sanchez said early Wednesday morning that her daughters hadn't yet seen the crime scene tape running from her porch and around the neighbor's home.

"They're going to question me when they come outside," Sanchez said. "It's scary. I'm worried about it. ...It's just super, super scary to think someone next door to me could potentially hurt my kid."