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Toddler's homicide still open 1 year later

June 15, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Ny'eal Ezra Mills loved his great-grandmother's pancakes.

The 2-year-old boy enjoyed riding his hobbyhorse in the backyard of her and her husband's home in Frederick, Md.

The youngest of her great-grandchildren, Ny'eal rode his little car "everywhere," Margaret Jackson said.

"He was an outgoing young man," Jackson said. "He loved his church."

"Him and I used to usher together," she recalled little more than a year after Ny'eal died from multiple internal injuries on May 24, 2007.

The toddler was pronounced dead at City Hospital in Martinsburg, and his death was ruled a homicide by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

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No arrests have been made in connection with his death.

"He's missed very much," Jackson said.

Photographs of the boy remain where they were before he died, and nothing has been given away, she said.

"It's just too early," Jackson said.

Ny'eal's death is difficult to talk about, she readily admits. But he never will be forgotten.

Jackson said Ny'eal's mother, Keshawn Snowden, had a tattoo with her son's name.

Snowden called 911 the morning her son died. The child reportedly was in cardiac arrest at 191 Moonlight Lane, east of Martinsburg off Jenny Wren Drive.

Ny'eal was pronounced dead at City Hospital less than 30 minutes after his mother's call for help.

He died from an assault that was "manifested" by head injuries, according to an autopsy report that police received from the state medical examiner. The boy also had a liver laceration and hemoperitoneum, which is internal bleeding in the abdominal cavity, according to the report.

The exact cause of Ny'eal's injuries wasn't clear, authorities said at the time.

"The one thing that we were told was the kid fell down a flight of (four) steps," Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Harmison said last week. "The kid just has too many injuries to be consistent with falling down a flight of steps."

Ny'eal was living with his mother and her boyfriend, Steven Lucky Frazier Jr., in a Wildflower Ridge subdivision home owned by Snowden's mother. The couple, since separated, had been together for about three months, Harmison said.

Police want to follow up with Frazier about what happened, but haven't been able to find him.

"He's probably going to be the key to the whole thing," Harmison said.

While at the hospital with her son on the morning he died, Snowden told police she received a phone call from Frazier, who led her to believe he intended to harm himself, Harmison said.

When police arrived at the home, they found what turned out to be Frazier's blood, but he was not there. Police didn't find any blood from the child, Harmison said.

Hours afterward, Frazier returned home on foot. He was wearing a long gray shirt with blood on the front of it, Harmison said. His blue jeans were spattered with blood, and his wrist appeared to be bleeding. He was taken to City Hospital for treatment and later released.

"We did talk to him there a little bit," Harmison said. "He said he would talk to us later, and that's the last we've seen of him."

Harmison said Frazier has ties to Frederick, and in Queens and Astoria, N.Y., where he's from.

Snowden has told police she hasn't had any contact with her former boyfriend since Ny'eal's death, Harmison said.

"We would love to clear the case and get some closure for the family," Harmison said Friday. "We are not only seeking justice for the victim in this case, but also for the family."

The time that has passed since the loss of her great-grandchild causes Jackson to doubt whether she ever will have closure.

"It's been too long," she said.

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