St. Louis County man charged with 3-year-old stepson’s murder after children returned home

Missouri

FLORISSANT, Mo. – A 21-year-old man faces murder charges after a 3-year-old died. He has been identified as Eli Taylor. Tevin Branom is also charged with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death. This is not the first time he has been implicated in child abuse.

Police say that Branom was taking care of four children at a home in the 11400 block of Latonka Trail on October 7. Police and EMS were called to the home at around 5 p.m. and found a three-year-old who was not breathing. Taylor had some of his ribs broken and there was bruising on his body.

Taylor was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Police say that Branom was unable to tell them why the child was injured. The cause of death was later determined to be abdominal trauma.

The children just returned to the home a month before Eli Taylor’s death. They were removed for 18 months because Branom was implicated in child abuse. The other three children are now in protective custody.

Branom is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bond.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell’s office released a statement: “Obviously, this office regards any case involving the death of a child as a matter of the utmost importance, and as it proceeds through the courts we will keep the public informed.

“Certainly, the timeline of this tragic death relative to the previous state supervision of the welfare of the child and the apparent release of the child to the family home raises concerns about that process. We will review all relevant state records as we proceed.”

In a court document, police say Branom “was implicated in abuse allegations that led to the four children being removed from the home for nearly 18 months but they were returned about one month before the victim’s death; that victim now identified as 3-year-old, Eli Taylor.”

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 divorcing parents must attend a parental education class.  

The couple did not complete the divorce process.  A judge dismissed the petition last month. 
A spokeswoman for the Missouri Division of Social Services said its child abuse records are confidential and closed to the public.  

In another statement, Bell said, “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.”

The victims’ neighbors are devasted.
  
“It’s crazy. Kids live their lives and we should not be abusing kids. We should be raising them up,” neighbor Jo’Na Lenoir said.

After the St. Louis Crisis Nursery learned about the incident, the organization wants to let families know its doors are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The organization provides a short-term, safe haven for 5,000 children a year whose families face an emergency caused by illness, homelessness, domestic violence, or overwhelming parental stress.

“It’s heartbreaking. This is our mission to keep kids alive and save babies’ lives,” DiAnne Mueller said, CEO of St. Louis Crisis Nursery. “When something like this happens, it sends shock waves through our Crisis Nursery and we want to get the word.” 

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