A North Carolina sex offender was charged on March 2 with killing a 10-month-old baby and beating his 3-year-old brother.
Ryan Hicks, 24, allegedly beat baby Caius Bruner and his older brother while sharing a mobile home in Boone, North Carolina, with the child's family on March 1, reports the Daily Mail.
Hicks was babysitting the two when he assaulted both, reports WSOC.
It is not clear how exactly Hicks injured the baby and his brother, but both were hospitalized.
"I couldn't believe it," said the children's mother, Rebecca Vamvaketis, who says she had previously dated Hicks and had known him since they were in school. "It was a nightmare. I had no idea he was like this."
While the older brother survived, the 10-month-old died from his injuries a few days later.
After Caius died, Hicks faced charges of second-degree murder and negligent child abuse.
When it was revealed Hicks was convicted of a sex crime against a 14-year-old in 2002, when he was 18, he faced additional charges for failing to register as a sex offender.
Asked if he felt remorse for beating the children, Hicks allegedly nodded yes. He is in jail on $1.1 million bail and is due in court in April, reports WGHP.
Vamvaketis urged Hicks to cooperate with the legal system.
"Ryan please be honest with the court system," she said, addressing Hicks in a public message. "Just tell them what you did and it would probably make your life a whole lot easier."
Friends, strangers and loved ones are shocked and in grief over the death.
"Baby Caius Alexander 'Bean' Bruner lost his life at just 10 months old," wrote Crystal-Brooke Rayfield on the GoFundMe page she created to help the mother. "Although the cause of death will not be discussed until a later date, we are asking for any donation, no matter how small for his funeral costs."
Not everyone was compassionate toward the mother and the family.
Some pointed fingers at Vamvaketis for not probing more deeply into Hicks' background.
"A quick search by Mom would have satisfied the need to know who she allowed around her children," wrote Alissa's Warriors Present Child Abuse Awareness and Education on their Facebook page. "He was charged with SEXUAL BATTERY which means his crime was violent, against a 14 year old OR LESS CHILD."
"He's on the North Carolina Registry, the Tennessee Registry (as inactive which is not true) as well as the NSOR," the page added. "She had a responsibility to her children, she failed."
Sources: Daily Mail, WSOC, GoFundMe, WGHP, Alissa's Warriors Present Child Abuse Awareness and Education/Facebook / Photo credit: Facebook via Daily Mail