3 year old foster child beaten to death for wearing a diaper
On June 7, 2017, police and paramedics were sent to a townhome in Egan Minnesota where three-year-old Zayden Lawson wasn’t breathing. He was dead by the time they got him to the hospital. He had been beaten to death. An autopsy revealed his death was due to multiple blunt force injuries and several soft tissue hemorrhages throughout his body.
He was beaten to death because he had to use a diaper. His foster mother, Zeporia Fortenberry, stood by and watched the beating, the murder, happen. The local newspaper refused to print the specifics of the criminal complaints against the pair because the details are too graphic. Fortenberry admitted to allowing Homich, her boyfriend to punch her 3-year-old foster child in the stomach for weeks.
The day before he died, June 6, Fortenberry was working the night shift and had left her two children in Charles Homich care. The next day, Zayden told Fortenberry that his stomach hurt. He vomited a couple times and Fortenberry said he was acting lazy. She put him in his pajamas and laid him on a mattress on the floor next to her bed.
While Zayden was sleeping Fortenberry called Charles Homich and spoke to him about Zayden’s stomach complaints. After they hung up, Homich told a coworker that he had punched Zayden in the stomach and that Zayden became, "really sick and his vomit was black," according to the complaint.
When the coworker told Homich to bring Zayden to a doctor, but Homich feared, "the doctor would see his bruises and Lawson is old enough to tell him who gave him the bruises." Another witness told investigators Homich said he “punched the (expletive) out of Zayden in his stomach.”
A while later the child stopped breathing. At the emergency room a doctor "noted numerous bruises...", "numerous scratches..." and "healed scarring" on his body - adding "The injuries were consistent with child physical abuse and most likely non-accidental."
Investigators found messages exchanged between Fortenberry and a girlfriend reading "beat his ass," and to "place him in ice-cold water for discipline.” The friend later told police that Fortenberry " had beat his feet so much that he could only walk on tippy-toes"
In April 2019, 28-year-old Charles Homich pled guilty to 2nd degree murder. He will face sentencing at the end of August of this year. The foster mother, Fortenberry pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 41 months in prison………just over three years……….. for beating a kid to death….she’ll get credit for time in jail since her arrest and will serve the first 2¼ years in prison and the balance on supervised release. Remarkably, a second manslaughter charge alleging child neglect or endangerment was dismissed.