Police have charged the father of a 2-year-old boy and his girlfriend with homicide after finding the boy's body buried under 400 pounds of concrete.
At first, Rodricus Williams' father, Roger Williams, and his girlfriend, Grace Nichole Trotman, told police that the boy slipped between a barrier and fell into the Charleston Harbor.
But after police set out on a massive, and ultimately fruitless, search, further interviews with the couple led them to the boy's body in a trailer in a remote area. The body had been wrapped in 32-gallon trash bags beneath 400 pounds of concrete in a trash can.
DNA testing confirmed that it was little Rodricus' body.
"During interviews, there was some talk about the child being struck on occasions," said Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. "Our interpretation is, it was not by accident."
Police are searching hospital records to see whether Rodricus had previously been brought in for treatment.
Trotman has cooperated with authorities, while Williams has been giving false information, police said.
A neighbor, Norm Reece, said he often saw Trotman with Rodricus and her two small children. He said she had rented a house in the area for a year and was quiet.
"She was very private," Reece said. "It's just a shock."
I wonder what was happening in this relationship that Trotman did not call police about the possible abuse going on in her home. This is especially frightening since she has two small children of her own.
Unfortunately, her cooperation with police comes too late to save Rodricus. His picture reveals an adorable, smiling child. Cases like this are hard to swallow; fathers are supposed to protect their children.
If abuse was a fact of life in that household, that means someone probably had a chance to do something to stop it. No one graduates directly to murder without making a few stops on the elevator of abuse.
For example, although she's not to blame for this tragedy, Rodricus' mother, Shaneka Washington, (pictured below) said she knew something was wrong when Williams would not let her speak to her son for almost two weeks.
"I barely got to talk to him," Washington said. "Most of the times I would call and they would always have an excuse. He [Williams] would say, 'He's with my mama. He's sleeping. He's at the park with his girl [Trotman], you know," Washington told Wis10.
She ultimately demanded that Williams deliver her son, and that's how the whole ordeal began.
If the child was in and out of the hospital, it would have been nice if officials notified both parents.
And although she did not give birth to Rodricus, Trotman knew something was going on and she had the responsibility as an adult, a mother and a human being to do something to stop it. If she was fearful for the safety of herself and her own children, she could have filed an anonymous report to police or social services.
We must be alert and work together to keep children safe and healthy.
"It just can't be understood. A 2-year-old, innocent child. If you don't want them, give them to social services. Don't kill them," Reece said.
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