DE SOTO — Taking a toy from his half sister led to one of what police are calling many "torture" sessions for a 2-year-old who died Monday, allegedly at the hands of his father's girlfriend.
Brandy Jean Mabery, 23, was charged Tuesday with felony abuse of a child resulting in death and armed criminal action for striking a child with a stick in the death of Stacey Tolbert-Wyatt.
Paramedics found the toddler in cardiac arrest about 3:30 a.m. Monday at the couple's apartment in the 400 block of North Eighth Street. He was pronounced dead at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.
Autopsy results showed multiple bruises over Stacey's body, swollen and bruised genitals and head injuries.
Dr. Mary Case, St. Louis County medical examiner, classified the findings as torture. The abuse allegedly occurred between June 21 and Monday and included the beating over the half sister's toy.
"This is one of the worst cases of child abuse we've seen in a long time," said Jefferson County Lt. Dave Marshak. "I don't know why anybody would make a conscious decision to beat and torture a child less than 3 years old with no possibility of defending itself or seeking its own medical attention."
De Soto Police Chief Ernie Paul said the child's father, Stacey Tolbert, 23, came home from his job at a nearby fast-food restaurant about 1:30 a.m. Monday to find his son beaten and struggling to breathe. He told police he thought the child was in a coma and tried to wake the child by pouring cold water on him.
Although court documents say Tolbert made two calls to his mother for "advice," police say two hours passed before Tolbert called 911.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Forrest Wegge charged Tolbert with endangering the welfare of a child. Police believe he did nothing to report the abuse.
Alandgra Pittman of St. Louis, Tolbert's mother, said Mabery beat the child while her son was at work. She said Mabery favored the 1-year-old daughter she had with Tolbert over Stacey, his child from a previous relationship.
According to court documents, Mabery said she threw a basketball at Stacey on Saturday, hitting him in the face and causing him to hit his head on the ground. That same day, the child wet himself, and Mabery said she hit him with a belt, according to documents.
On Sunday, Mabery allegedly told authorities, the child fell in the bathtub, which caused more injuries to his face and head, and she hit him with a stick on his legs and buttocks. She also said she pushed the child and he fell face first onto the ground and into a wall, according to court documents.
Jerome Jasper, who lives in the same apartment building as Tolbert and Mabery, said he noticed the child had a black eye and a busted lip Sunday. The child's father told him Mabery accidentally hit the child with a basketball, Jasper said.
Stacey's mother, Eboni Wyatt, 20, of St. Louis, said she hadn't seen her son since June 1, when she left him at his father's home for the summer.
Wyatt doesn't believe Tolbert knew of the abuse. "She (Mabery) was being real devilish," Wyatt said Tuesday through tears. "Maybe she's just evil because she doesn't like me, so now she thinks, 'I've got the best of her now,' because I can never replace him."
Wyatt said her family would like to have a funeral service for her son Friday, but is unsure the family can afford it.
Meanwhile, Stacey's half sister was taken from the home and put in the custody of the Family Support Division. The child will turn 1 today and showed no signs of physical abuse or neglect, authorities said.
Mabery is in the Jefferson County Jail on $1 million cash-only bail.