A mom and her boyfriend have been charged with murder in the death of her 5-year-old son in North Philadelphia.
It was just after 1:00 a.m. when police found the lifeless body of the child, Dashawn Harris, inside his mother’s home in the West Poplar Apartments in the 600 block of North 13th Street.
Investigators say Dashawn had obvious signs of abuse, including bruises on his body along with cigarette burns on his chest.
He was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Lashay Patterson, 23, and her boyfriend, Christian Patrick, 25, have been arrested and formally charged with murder. They were arrested on Saturday after being questioned for several hours.
Sources say Patrick became angry with the boy while trying to teach him to read and write, beating him with a belt and burning him with a hairdryer.
Dashawn’s family on his father’s side stood in disbelief for hours after they learned of his death.
“I can’t believe she did that,” said Grace Fitch, little Dashawn’s paternal grandmother. “Shay was just the sweetest person you could meet and when she got with this guy she just started getting distant.”
Dashawn’s paternal aunt, Tracy Merriweather, lives right next door and said she saw incidents of domestic violence between the mother and boyfriend.
Family members believe Dashawn’s 3-year-old brother, who also lived in the apartment, was being abused as well.
He’s now with his distraught father who said he was not aware of what was happening in the home.
State legislator Curtis Thomas, who represents the district, was so appalled he came to the apartment complex on Saturday night looking for answers.
“We have too many situations where babies are at risk and at risk for things that we can control,” Rep. Thomas said.
Action News contacted the Philadelphia Department of Human Services on Saturday evening, but a spokeswoman couldn’t say if the agency had any cases involving the family.