THE BRONX - The father of a murdered toddler said his son's caretaker always had an excuse for the boy's injuries. As the family of 20-month-old Cardell Williamson mourned the toddler, caretaker Athena Skeeter remained in custody Monday after her arraignment.
"She put on a good facade for me for a long time," said Carlyle Williamson, who is Cardell’s father. "When I used to ask her about the lumps and bumps on him, it was like she was nonchalant about it." Williamson said the toddler had been in Skeeter's care for five months.
Williamson dropped Cardell off Friday at Skeeter's Bronx apartment at 1374 College Ave., where neighbors claim she ran a child care center. It would be the last time Williamson would see his son alive.
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According to a criminal complaint, Skeeter threw Cardell to the ground while wrestling with him and then stepped on his stomach three times. Skeeter then threw her son on top of Cardell and later stepped on Cardell again, according to the criminal complaint.
"Cardell acted different after that," Skeeter said in court documents. "He threw up. His head kept tilting. He couldn't walk on his own." Skeeter also told police she put Cardell in a bathtub and put cold water on his face, and then stepped out for a short time. When she came back, Skeeter told police, Cardell's head was in the water and he had burns on his arm and face.
Responding police officers began CPR at the apartment before Cardell was taken to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.
Skeeter was arraigned Sunday for manslaughter. She is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child and is due back in court Thursday.
AP contributed to this story.