The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 7:20 pm

Court documents detail murder charge in 5-year-old's death

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

When Benjamyn Otto McKinley Frederick's mother found him on the bathroom floor the morning of March 8, he was warm to her touch but his lips were blue.

Benjamyn wasn't breathing so Danial Tyrell Pope, 28, who lived at the home, told Benjamyn's mother to call her mother and find out what to do. The boy's grandmother told them to call 911.

If 911 had been called sooner, 5-year-old Benjamyn would have survived his horrific injuries, Dr. Scott Wagner, a forensic pathologist, told investigators in court documents.

Instead, Benjamyn died two days later. Pope who has a child in common with Benjamyn's mother, Stephanie R. McKinney Frederick, was charged Tuesday with murder. He was being held at the Allen County Jail without bail.

It's unclear in court records whether the child in common only refers to the couple's 8-month-old daughter or includes Benjamyn.

Benjamyn is the 10th homicide in Allen County and the fourth child homicide this year. He is the fifth child homicide since the beating death of Malakai Garrett Nov. 29. 

The hospital trauma surgeon said there was "overwhelming evidence that this child has been severely abused." Benjamun's face was beaten and he had pulmonary contusions consistent with blows to the chest, court documents said.

Benjamyn appeared to have been "severely beaten and has numerous defensive wounds in addition to his brutal wounds on his chest wall and all up and down his left side and on his genitalia," the trauma surgeon wrote.

Another hospital doctor explained to the family that Benjamyn had died due to a restriction of oxygen and the boy was declared brain dead on March 10.

Benjamyn was rushed to the hospital just after 12:32 p.m. March 8 after Pope called 911 to report that a child at 1218 Gay St. was not breathing.

The last time Benjamyn's mother, Stephanie R. McKinney Frederick, saw her son alive was at 9 a.m. that morning.

She told police she had been up all night with her infant daughter and had fallen asleep about 8:45 a.m. Benjamyn came into her room at 9 a.m. in his orange nylon basketball shorts he'd had slept in. He hadn't wet the bed during the night, she told police.

He asked for something to eat and permission to watch a video in the other room. She gave him a muffin, she said, and he went into the other room to watch television.

At that time, Pope was lying on the bed and said he needed to go to the bathroom. She stayed to prepare a bottle for her daughter and change her diaper. Stephanie did not emerge from the bedroom until she was called to the bathroom where Benjamyn lay dying, court records said.

Pope told police that the last time he had seen his son was around 10:30 a.m. when he got up to go to the bathroom. He found him unresponsive and started to perform CPR, court records said.

At 12:09 p.m., Stephanie McKinney called her mother and when she got off the phone Pope came in to tell her he could not get into the bathroom. McKinney asked where Benjamyn was and Pope went to the bathroom, pushed the door in and said he could see Benjamyn's head, she said.

While Pope called 911, McKinney changed Benjamyn out of his basketball shorts and underwear which were soiled with feces and cleaned her son. She put Benjamyn's Batman pajamas on him. Pope put the soiled wipes, underwear and orange shorts into a white shopping bag and left the bag on the bathroom floor. It was later photographed by crime scene technicians, court documents said.

During interviews, police learned Pope was in the habit of abusing Benjamyn. At first Stephanie said she was the one who took a belt to their son, but later admitted that she lied because Pope told her to and she was afraid of him, court records said.

Pope abused her as well, striking her with his fists, kicking her, choking her and punching her in the vagina. This had happened multiple times since their daughter was born, she told investigators.

Two days after the Benjamyn's death, Pope told Stephanie to come outside and smoke a cigarette with him. When she told him she didn't want to go with him, he kicked her in the side, court documents said.

Three days before Benjamyn was rushed to the hospital, Pope had whipped Benjamyn with a television cable cord and she said she grabbed Pope's arm to get him off. She said she had heard Pope beating Benjamyn but hadn't seen it. On March 5 and 6, she heard him punching Benjamyn and the week before, she had heard him doing the same thing five to seven times, court records said.

On March 15, she obtained a protective order against Pope. On March 16, the Allen County Coroner's office ruled Benjamyn's death a homicide due to neck compression.

Monday, around 4:10 p.m. Fort Wayne officers arrested Pope at a residence in the 5500 block of Litchfield Road.

Just after word spread that Benjamyn had been beaten, the activist group, #JusticeForMalakai, added Benjamyn or "BenOtto" to their list of children who have been killed or abused recently.

His name lives on in chalk in front of the Allen County Courthouse door every time the group chalks the sidewalks in front of the courthouse, the Allen County Jail and the Allen County Prosecutor's Office.

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