June 22, 2024

Caretaker, 9-year-old arrested after 4-year-old boy beaten to death with broomstick 

A 53-year-old woman and a 9-year-old girl have been arrested in connection with the beating death of the child’s younger brother in Mobile, Alabama. 

According to an NBC News report, Yolanda Denise Coale was asleep when she heard screaming, and found the boy, 4, being hit with a broomstick by his older sister. Coale, their aunt, has been identified as the caretaker of the children. 

Yolanda Denise Coale, 53, was reportedly asleep when she heard screaming and woke to find her toddler nephew being hit with a broom by his older sister. (Photo: Mobile Police Department)

The 9-year-old girl “Did willfully torture, willfully abuse, cruelly beat, or otherwise willfully maltreat said child by striking the child with a broomstick and/or other dangerous instrument, causing serious physical injury,” according to the Mobile Police Department’s probable cause report in Coale’s arrest. 

According to a local report, authorities responded to the home last Thursday, where the toddler — who has since been identified as King Lyons — was found unresponsive. He had died by the time paramedics arrived. Lyons’ autopsy has been ordered as part of the investigation, and his body reportedly showed signs of prior abuse.

Coale’s bail has been set at $150,000. The woman does not have a lengthy criminal history, only a 2005 charge for furnishing alcohol to a minor. 

“She was the legal guardian of the child. … During the course of the investigation, Mobile police found evidence of abuse for this child, and then he was found deceased,” said Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Louis Walker after Coale’s court hearing, according to KKTV 11. 

Andy Wynne, director of the Child Advocacy Center of Mobile, said child abuse is all too common in that community. “It’s incredibly tragic,” he contended. “And unfortunately, it happens a little bit more frequently than I think people want to think about.”

He noted that his agency addresses up to 500 cases a year, which is only a fraction of cases in the area. 

“It’s also recognized as the most underreported crime in the country,” he said. “We probably get about somewhere between 10 and 25 percent of the kids who are being abused are reported. It’s really the high-profile, the real tragedies, like the death of this child you’re talking about, that bring forward. But there’s lots of kids who are out there suffering in silence.”

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