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Saturday, December 02, 2017 1:00 am

Details unveiled in death of boy, 2

Had internal injuries, forensic doctor says

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Two-year-old Malakai Michael Garrett's fatal injuries had to have occurred within hours of his death Wednesday night, a forensic physician said in court documents filed Friday.

Before he died, Malakai endured severe injuries to his internal organs consistent with multiple blows and strikes from a closed fist, a doctor at the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center told investigators.

The 2-year-old's death was declared the county's 36th homicide of the year Friday by the Allen County coroner.

Mitchell Lee Vanryn, the boyfriend of the child's mother, Amber Garrett, was taken into custody Thursday night and charged with aggravated battery on a person who is younger than 18 years old and domestic battery death to a person under 14.

He is being held at the Allen County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bail, a jail spokesman said.

Vanryn, 27, rushed the boy from 6902 Palmetta Court, a single-family home on the city's north side he shared with Garrett, to the nearest fire station on North Clinton Street at 4:46 p.m. Wednesday, according to a neighbor's home surveillance video, court documents said.

In that video, Vanryn is first captured at 4:43 p.m. running out of the house with the boy in his arms. Vanryn is seen running back into the house and then out again three minutes later, still carrying the child, who looks limp and unresponsive, according to court documents.

From Fire Station No. 13, the toddler was rushed to Parkview Regional Medical Center in critical condition and pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m., court records said.

The coroner said the boy died from a hemoperitoneum due to a lacerated pancreas and duodenum and mesentery due to blunt force injury of the abdomen.

Malakai was in the sole care of Vanryn after Garrett left for work at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, court records said. Vanryn told police he was the baby sitter during the day while his girlfriend worked. 

Vanryn's biological son had been at the Palmetta Court home in the morning and left about 1 p.m., the time Malakai went for a nap. Vanryn said no other person was home with him and the boy. He also said he hadn't left the home since Sunday or Monday of that week.

Vanryn told police he put the boy down for a nap about 1 p.m., and when the boy's sister arrived home from school with her grandmother about 4:10 p.m., Malakai was still not awake.

Vanryn said when he went to wake up Malakai, the boy's eyes were open but he was unresponsive. Vanryn said he slapped Malakai in the face to wake him and then took him to the bathtub and put cold water on him. It was then he decided to take the boy to the fire station, court records said.

At the hospital, a look at Malakai's body indicated multiple bruises to the groin area, front and back torso, the left and right cheek and back of his head, documents said. The emergency room doctor thought the bruises appeared to be two to three days old.

Garrett said her son had not been feeling well the night before and had bruising on his face from falling, court records said. She also said her son had some diarrhea, was not eating and was complaining about pain to his head.

Lantz Garrett, Malakai's father, said he had joint custody of his son with Amber Garrett. He said he hadn't seen his son since June 24 after a no-contact order was served following a confrontation over the boy's treatment. He said he had been trying to work through the court system to see his son again and had engaged with Child Protective Services.

“I am suing everybody that was involved and didn't stop it,” Lantz Garrett told The Journal Gazette on Friday.

James Wide, a spokesman for the state's Department of Child Services, said confidentiality laws prevented him from discussing whether his department was involved in a case regarding Malakai.

Vanryn was charged with domestic battery in January 2015 in Allen County in a case involving the mother of his own son, who was 8 months old at the time. Vanryn allegedly threw a car seat at the mother of the 8-month-old and cursed at her, court records said.

The car seat struck her arm, resulting in several large wounds that bled.

The case was dismissed several days after the incident, according to a court affidavit. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to pay for Malakai's funeral costs under “JusticeForMalakai.”

jduffy@jg.net