A 15-year-old girl allegedly held down her 4-year-old brother in a bathtub of hot water because he wet himself. Jamal Dunlap died after going a day without any medical attention.
On Tuesday, police arrested the teen for murder and first-degree child cruelty in her brother’s death, according to Clayton County police. The children’s aunt, Aleshia Harries, was also arrested for the same charges after she allegedly let the boy suffer without treatment for about 24 hours, police said.
“This is one of the worst (cases) I’ve seen,” Clayton County Police Maj. Joseph Woodall told Channel 2 Action News.
The investigation began about 3:30 p.m., Friday when officers and paramedics responded to a home in the 400 block of Flint Trail in Jonesboro, police spokesperson Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. The caller said the child was having difficulty breathing.
Jamal was transported to Southern Regional Medical Center where doctors found second and third degree burns over forty percent of his body, Marbury said. He suffered brain swelling and had an 80-degree core temperature, according to a media report.
“The injuries were of a submergence burn pattern indicating that the child had been placed in a tub of hot water,” Marbury said in a news release. The teen had punished the boy for wetting himself by putting him in a tub of 155-degree water, according to Channel 2 Action News.
At 4:07 p.m. Jamal was pronounced dead, Marbury said. Investigators later learned that Jamal was injured Thursday afternoon while he was in the care of his 15-year-old sister and aunt, Marbury said.
“Jamal’s sister struck him several times with a leather belt and then physically forced and held him in a bathtub of hot water after Jamal had urinated on himself,” Marbury said.
Harris, who was the children’s caretaker, did nothing to save her nephew.
“Jamal’s aunt was made aware of the injuries but elected not to seek emergency medical treatment for the child until approximately 24 hours later,” Marbury said. “The failure to seek medical care for Jamal constituted negligent deprivation and contributed to Jamal’s death.”
The 30-year-old, who appeared in court Wednesday, was ordered held without bond.
“She willfully and intentionally deprived a 4-year-old child,” the judge said, according to Channel 2.
Harris barely shook her head in disagreement when the judge read the details from the warrant. Her brother said Harris did nothing wrong, the news station reported.
“She was telling (the girl) to take him out (of the bathtub),” he said. The brother said Harris had a reason for not taking the child to the hospital.
“We don’t know if they have insurance or not, so my sister was just taking care of him,” he said.
The brother said Harris was taking care of the children because their parents left them with the family and never returned to get them, the news station reported.
Harris’ brother said his sister treated Jamal until he took a turn for the worse.
“The sister said he needed to be in the bath because he peed on himself,” Harris’ brother said.