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DCFS confirms prior involvement with family of 8-year-old killed from abuse

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - With prior involvement of state case workers, the parents of a young boy in Peoria now charged in connection with his death. The Peoria County Coroner ruled the 8-year-old’s death a homicide from abuse and neglect. Neighbors say they knew something was not right on the street.

Neighbors Heart of Illinois ABC spoke with did not want to be identified. They say the family had only lived there a short time. A woman said she had her suspicions, but also did not think it would come to this.

“I feel sick. I’ve been feeling nauseous since I saw the ambulance out here yesterday,” said a neighbor.

Neighbors said they were heartbroken after a little boy was found unresponsive on the 1700 block of Gale Ave. in Peoria, Tuesday.

“As mothers were protecting our kids from everything out here and in this case, the little boy needed to be protected from his own parents,” said a neighbor.

8-year-old Navin Jones was pronounced dead the same day. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood was horrified.

“It was enough for us to say it was abuse and neglect for his cause of death,” said Harwood.

Peoria Police confirmed the boy’s parents were the suspects in the child’s death. 35-year-old Stephanie Jones and 40-year-old Brandon Walker were arrested Tuesday. The pair are accused of endangering the life or health of a child, resulting in death.

“This is one of worst cases of abuse that I’ve seen,” said Harwood.

Although, it did not happen overnight. A DCFS spokesperson said they had prior contact with the family. A neighbor said she saw state caseworkers at the home two weeks ago.

“We had seen DCFS there and they said they were taking the little boy then,” said a neighbor.

The neighbor said she rarely saw Navin Jones outside.

“All the neighborhood all play together and everything and he’s the only kid that never gets to go outside,” said a neighbor.

And she said she had her suspicions.

“Something was off about her, she was very weird and just gives you like a bad vibe,” said a neighbor.

A Peoria Public Schools spokesperson said Navin Jones was not currently enrolled in school.

Now the coroner and neighbors want to see justice.

“My hearts broken for this little boy. It was probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to preside over since I became coroner 5 years ago,” said Harwood.

Jones and Walker are due in court Thursday afternoon.

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