A father in Georgia is under arrest and charged with murder and cruelty to children in the first degree over the death of his newly adopted son.
Leon Williams Sr., 43, allegedly beat, scalded and drowned his son, Kentae Williams, 10, after the boy misbehaved at school, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Leon had recently adopted Kentae after fostering the child.
The boy died on April 28 after Leon picked him up from school. According to the police report released May 1, a woman saw Leon and Kentae in the school parking lot. Leon was holding the boy by the neck when the woman approached.
Leon was reportedly visibly angry, and the woman tried to calm him down. Leon told the woman he was angry because the boy had gotten into trouble. The woman told police that she could see how scared the child was and that as the two left she overheard Leon tell his son, "You're going to die tonight."
Alicia Lemons, a neighbor, recalled seeing Leon minutes before the drowning, reports WAGA-TV.
"He said in front of us, 'I'm gonna kill him, he's gonna die tonight, I'm gonna kill him' ... We didn't think he would actually go through with it."
Kentae's grandmother, Geri Williams, reported to police that the boy had drowned.
Police are still trying to figure out exactly what happened between Leon making these statements and the ambulance arriving to try to resuscitate Kentae.
Leon initially said his son had a seizure while taking a bath, and that he had drained the tub and began performing CPR waiting for help to arrive. But investigators quickly noticed signs of trauma inconsistent with drowning.
Police noticed bruises, injuries and burns on the bottoms of the victim's feet, reports WXIA-TV.
Leon told investigators he had whipped the boy with his belt about 10 times, then poured hot water on his feet. Finally, Leon says he held the child under water for 30-45 seconds while lecturing him about misbehaving, then repeated the action again and again.
Leon was booked that night and remains held without bail.
“Mr. Williams maintains his innocence and we’re going to do our best to represent him zealously,” said his defense attorney, Leeanne Lynch.
Lemons, the neighbor who saw how scared Kentae was, expressed her regret. "To be adopted into a home where you think you're going to be loved and then this happens ... He never got the chance to be loved. Now he's in a cold box somewhere."