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22-month-old child dies; mother's husband charged with child abuse

Posted at 5:38 PM, Nov 17, 2016

A 22-month-old boy is dead and the man caring for him has been charged with aggravated child abuse. The little boy was rushed to the hospital Monday night where he passed away.

Manatee County deputies said 22-month-old Ethan Thompson was suffering. He had multiple broken ribs, a skull fracture, ruptured kidney and bruises. Ethan’s mother said her husband was abusive and that’s why Ethan died.

“A two-year-old baby, like who would do that? Like if he did do that, like, why?” Evita Guerrier, a neighbor, said. 

Deputies arrested Montez McNeal, who is married to Ethan’s mother, and charged him with aggravated child abuse. 

“There was a skull fracture, broken ribs, I mean just a multitude of injuries, and suffice it to say his life was not good for almost up to the two years,”  Dave Bristow with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said. 

Ethan was rushed to the hospital Monday night with “several suspicious injuries.” According to the probable cause affidavit, Ethan’s mother left him in the bath with an older sibling while she went to the store. When she got back, Ethan was getting CPR. A firefighter who lives nearby tried to help him. Ethan had “labored breathing and a faint heartbeat.”

“He almost made it to his second birthday but not quite,” Bristow said.

In the report, Ethan’s mother said McNea was abusive to her and her six kids. She said she had seen McNeal punch her children. She said McNeal was upset that day because Ethan had diarrhea and was not potty-trained.

McNeal said he was “rough playing around.”

“I hope you get justice for your baby, because that’s sad I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” Guerrier said.

DCF sent this statement:

The news of Ethan’s death is heartbreaking and we are all praying for those who loved him. Ethan’s siblings have all been placed in foster care at this time and we will continue to care for them as they grieve the loss of their brother.

 All child protective investigations in Manatee County are conducted by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Child Protection Investigation Division and we will continue to support them in their investigation. A Critical Incident Rapid Response Team has been deployed to review the case and determine if there were any actions that could have been taken to prevent this tragedy.

 The family has had prior contact with the child welfare system; however, as the investigation is ongoing, records remain confidential at this time…”

There were five other children living in the home and they are now in protective custody. There are no other charges at this time, but the investigation is ongoing.