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Investigation into 2-year-old's death continues

June 28, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County Sheriff's Department investigator said Wednesday that the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has "backed away" from its initial findings that a 2-year-old boy's death on May 24 was a homicide.

"We don't know why yet," Lt. Gary Harmison of the sheriff's department's Criminal Investigation Division said. "Whether they shared (the information) with (lead investigator Deputy Sgt. D.S.) McGown, I don't know. If they did, he didn't tell me."

Harmison said Wednesday that he and a few other deputies know the cause of death of Ny'eal Ezra Mills, but are not releasing the information because the investigation is ongoing. McGown is off duty this week and was not available to comment Wednesday.

Mills, of 191 Moonlight Lane, was pronounced dead at City Hospital less than 30 minutes after emergency dispatchers received a call that the child was in cardiac arrest at his home east of Martinsburg, officials have said.

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Hours after the child's death, police said the child's medical history did not jibe with the incident and described the death as suspicious.

"Right now, we're still waiting on the final written report," Harmison said. "If they rule it a homicide, we're back to where we are right now. We're still treating it as a homicide until we hear otherwise."

Harmison said investigators learned that Mills lived in Frederick, Md., until about two weeks before he died.

The child was living at a home in the Wildflower Creek subdivision with his mother and his mother's boyfriend, Harmison said. The child's father resides in Maryland, Harmison said.

The child's grandmother owned the home, but wasn't living there at the time of the child's death, Harmison said.

In a brief interview the day her son died, Mills' mother said she had dialed 911 for help.

While at the hospital talking with family members of the child, sheriff's department deputies learned that a male family member had contacted the relatives there from the boy's home and indicated he was "very upset" and intended to cause harm to himself as a result of the boy's death, police have said.

The man was not immediately found by police at the Moonlight Lane residence when they arrived. Several hours later, he returned to the home on foot and was wearing a long gray shirt that appeared to have a substantial amount of blood on the front of it and blue jeans also spattered with blood. His wrist also was bleeding.

Police later said the man was the boyfriend of the child's mother and that he was treated for self-inflicted injuries at City Hospital and released.

No charges have been filed, and Harmison said investigators still are conducting interviews about the child's death.

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