ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Authorities are looking into potential red flags in a deadly case of alleged child abuse case near Florissant.
Tevin Branom, 21, is accused of beating his 3-year-old stepson so badly that he broke the boy’s ribs and killed him. He’s been charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. He’s in the St. Louis County Jail with a bond set at $500,000.
Branom has a history of alleged child abuse.
In a court document, police said Branom, “was implicated in prior abuse allegations which resulted in the (four) children being removed from the home for approximately 18 months. The victim and his siblings were returned to the Defendant’s home about one month prior to the victim’s death.”
That victim has now been identified as Eli Taylor.
Police and EMS were called to the family’s apartment near Florissant early Thursday evening and found Eli not breathing with bruising and broken ribs, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Branom was alone in the home with four children, according to a court document. The other three children in the home were taken into protective custody, police said.
“It raises concerns. I wouldn’t want to comment beyond that but it does raise concerns any time a child dies like this,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.
Court documents show Branom’s wife filed for divorce earlier this year just after the birth of the couple’s only child together, a daughter. The couple was notified that all divorcing parents must attend a parental education class. They did not complete the divorce process, however. A judge dismissed the petition last month.
A spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services said its child abuse records are confidential and closed to the public; the director can—but does not have to—release them in cases of critical injury or death after a completed investigation.
“We’re going to do a detailed, thorough, and accurate investigation as we always do. We’re going to get to the bottom of any potential concerns,” Bell said.
This case had St. Louis Crisis Nursery CEO Diane Mueller in tears. The Crisis Nursery is a safe haven for nearly 5,000 children every year. It also helps with parenting skills, all free of charge.
“(This case) is heartbreaking. This is our mission to keep kids alive, save babies’ lives,” she said. We want people to know that it’s never ok to hurt a child and that help is available. Please, call the St. Louis Crisis Nursery 24/7 (at 314-768-3201) if you have a child or children and you need some help, we want to be helpful. I promise you will get the help you need.”
The number for the Missouri Department of Social Services Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline is 800-392-3738.