COLUMBUS, Ohio — DaShawn Smith remembers one of his fondest memories of his son, Marquel, with a smile. He was holding his son on his chest as the baby slobbered on him.
“That was the last day I held him,” Smith said.
That was Nov. 8. Almost exactly two months later, Smith’s baby boy would be dead.
On Monday night, Columbus police were called to a home on Hiawatha Street in the North Linden neighborhood. Baby Marquel Smith was transported to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he later died.
Court records show the baby had numerous broken bones, including previous fractures that already were healing.
The baby’s mother, 23-year-old Savanna Dawson, and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Kyrios March Jr., were taken in for questioning but later released.
On Wednesday, court records show an autopsy was conducted, revealing the baby had a brain bleed and several bruises on his skull. He also had numerous broken bones that were consistent with abuse and not accidental, court records show. His cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma, and the manner was homicide.
10TV questioned police on why the suspects were questioned and then released.
“Good question,” said CPD Commander Mark Denner. “When we have situations like any homicide investigation, or really any criminal investigation, we want to make sure we get it right, and so sometimes that means we have to slow things down a little bit. It might mean that we get interviews, we might have to work with the coroner’s office, we might gather information, and then charges could play out, so if that’s a thought, which I think that’s a reasonable thought question, there are reasons behind that, and that’s part of the investigative process.”
Police said Thursday afternoon during a small press briefing that there had been no sightings of the couple. But they do believe the couple has fled the Columbus area, adding that March has ties to Michigan.
10TV asked Cmdr. Denner whether investigators now wish they had kept the couple in custody.
“You know, it’s always in hindsight, you know, certainly we’d love to have them, but at the same time, I think at that time going back, I think the right call right call was to make sure we were thorough, we were complete, and we had everything in line, and then we file the charges, and then we’ll go after them, and we’ll make sure we get them in custody,” he said.
Meanwhile, Smith says he carries no anger in his heart toward Dawson or March, even though he says his life is now forever changed.
“Don’t put hatred out towards nobody,” he said. “Show nothing but love. Respect my son’s name. Don’t tarnish his name trying to do nothing senseless to these people. They’re going to get what they get. That’s just life. But just respect my son’s name.”
10TV also reached out to Franklin County Children Services. An agency spokeswoman said FCCS had had no prior contact with the family, adding that the other children have been placed outside of the home.
Police say there were two older girls in the home belonging to Dawson and another child belonging to March.