Family says they’re angry, heartbroken over 6-year-old boy’s death

Stepfather charged with whipping stepson to death with extension cord

Family says they’re angry, heartbroken over 6-year-old boy’s death

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - New details are being released about the death of a 6-year-old boy severely beaten with an extension cord by his stepfather.

Family members said it’s possible the child might have been abused for several months

The Department of Children Services would only confirm that within the last three years, there has been an active investigation involving this child.

Canarius Smith, the child's father, said he hasn't seen his son since January after he confronted his son's stepfather about alleged abuse.

Smith said he's heartbroken to find out that his suspicions were true and he found out about his son’s death on Facebook.

He said he's still in a state of shock.

“I haven't had a chance to grieve because I'm angry right now,” Smith said.

His only child Ralph was found Wednesday unresponsive in an apartment on Pine Hollow Drive in Whitehaven.

The child’s stepfather Donald Rich admitted to whipping the boy with an extension cord until the child began to throw up, according to court documents.

“No. I don't want to have no dealings with him,” said Rich’s god-sister Tomyra Holmes.

Holmes said after the death of Ralph, her own children began to describe the abuse they witnessed.

“He basically said that Ralph had smeared toothpaste on something like that,” Holmes said. “Said that Donald whooped him for a very long time and said afterwards Ralph couldn't walk.”

The night Ralph died, the medical staff noticed multiple injuries on the child some new and some old that had healed.

Rich made his first appearance in court Friday, charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

“I'm still trying to figure out why he don't have a murder charge, or aggravated assault,” Holmes said. “No he killed that baby he deserve that charge."

Smith said he can't think about the man charged with assaulting his child. He just wants to think about that energetic, smart first grader who is no longer here.

“I just want my child at this point,” Smith said. “Just let me bury my child.”

The boy’s mother has not responded to our calls.

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