MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Dressed in Spider-Man clothes and holding stuffed animals, family members of 3-year-old Josiah stood in the street and prayed for justice, not just for him, but for all abused children.
"He loved Spider-Man," stepfather Jermane Greer said. "He will get buried in his Spider-Man."
On Saturday morning, Josiah was beaten and killed. His father, Terry Patterson, has been charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and child neglect in the death.
"The way he beat my grandson, we will not have an open casket," grandmother Ethel Quinn said.
"All he kept saying was 'Mama, I got to tell you something,' the last words, 'Mama I got to tell you at home.' I know I could have saved him if I took him, but if I took him, he would have called the police on me and he would have had custody for good," Josiah's mother Kerra Brown said.
Brown said she has been replaying the last conversation she had with her son Friday night over and over. She said she could not get him because of court rules.
"The first week of him having my baby, and he killed him," she said.
Brown said this is a fight that has been going on since Josiah was 8-months-old and had bruises after a visit with his father.
"DCS came and said those are old bruises. Those aren't old bruises. When I gave my son to his dad, he didn't have bruises at all. I've been fighting constantly telling DCS telling them Terry is beating my son and somebody needs to do something."
Brown said on August 27 a judge ordered Josiah to spend 26 weeks a year with his father. She said she begged police and the Department of Children Services to not allow this. On Saturday, the first week he spent with his father, Josiah died.
After looking into Patterson's background, WMC Action News 5 investigators found that he is listed as a sex offender from a statutory rape charge from 1998. Brown said she told DCS about this when she tried to get full custody.
Family said the system let them down.
"Jo Jo at eight months old was brutally beaten. We gave the pictures. He didn't go to jail for that," Quinn said. "Had police stepped in the first time and charged this man, my grandson would be here today," Quinn said. "They let my grandson down. They let him die."
A spokesperson for DCS would not comment on any information regarding their contact with the family, but said they had been in contact with them for the past three years. They are now investigating the death.
Family said they want justice for every child that has died from abuse.
"I don't want to look on the news and hear another parent saying the same thing I said," Brown said.
"I love Josiah. I will always love Josiah. That is my strong man. He is looking down on me saying, 'Mama, be strong.' He would wipe my tears."
Family members have set up a GoFundMe account to pay for Josiah's funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, click here.
Patterson is due in court Tuesday. Family members hope Jo Jo's story will help them get justice for other abused children.