FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The stepmother of a boy who died over the weekend has been arrested.
Fort Wayne Police arrested 30-year-old Alesha Lynn Miller just after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. She faces preliminary charges of aggravated battery resulting in death, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, along with two other counts of neglect of a dependent.
Miller is currently being held in the Allen County Jail on a $55,000 bond. An initial hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
It was around 1:15 a.m. Saturday when police and medics were sent to a home in the 800 block of Putnam Street on a juvenile neglect/abuse investigation, according to the police activity log.
The child was taken to Lutheran Hospital downtown and admitted into the emergency room. According to the Allen County Coroner’s Office, life-saving measures were not successful and the child died there.
Police identified the boy as 9-year-old Elijah T. Ross.
The coroner’s office said after an autopsy that while Ross had “multiple blunt force injuries,” it could not determine the cause and manner of his death. Both are pending further investigation and testing, the office said.
Fort Wayne Police, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office, and the coroner’s office are investigating the case.
According to a probable cause affidavit released Wednesday, young Elijah’s mother – Jenna Miller – brought him to the hospital. He was “cold and limp” when they arrived, and was pronounced dead just after 2 a.m. Doctors found “multiple bruises” on the boy’s arms and face, “major” bruising to his lower back and buttocks, multiple bruises and swelling and abrasions on his shoulders, and a small cut on his penis.
In an interview with police, Alesha Miller said she and Jenna Miller were at a Christmas party when she took a call that said the brothers had been fighting and the victim was pushed into a bookcase around 9 p.m. Friday, the affidavit said. She said after the boy went upstairs, Jenna Miller – her wife – yelled that the boy stopped breathing and vomited, the affidavit said.
At that point, the couple put the boy in the car and went to the hospital, while performing CPR, Alesha Miller told police.
Jenna Miller gave the same story to police, according to the affidavit.
On Monday, police interviewed two other children. One said that Alesha Miller, who the children called “dad,” “went hard” on Elijah, and would “slam him to the ground” and “whoop him with the paddle” multiple times, the affidavit said. After the abuse, Elijah would “ball up,” the brother said.
The community is gathering on Putnam Street right now to remember 9-year-old Elijah Ross who was killed over the weekend. @wane15 pic.twitter.com/fsEqzmrszu— Natalie Clydesdale (@NatalieC_TV) December 21, 2021
The night of the incident, one boy said he and Elijah were fighting and he texted his parents because he was “fake-vomiting,” and Alesha Miller told him to “beat him up” and make him sit in the corner, the affidavit said. When the couple arrived back home from the Christmas party, “dad” began yelling at the victim.
A brother said Alesha Miller called him downstairs to hold Elijah’s feet because she needed to “whoop him” and he was “squirming everywhere” and “trying to fight back,” the affidavit said. She hit him with a wooden paddle on his buttocks, the child said.
Elijah eventually got “knocked out,” the child told investigators. Alesha Miller splashed water on him and shook him trying to get him to wake up, the child said.
He said Jenna Miller was going to call police but Alesha Miller said the police would arrest them both and they didn’t want to go to jail, the affidavit said.
In another interview with police on Tuesday, Alesha Miller told police she whooped Elijah with a belt on his buttocks three times three different times. She said the night of the incident, the brother was the one who whooped Elijah with a paddle, the affidavit said.
Jenna Miller told police that Alesha Miller “continuously kept whooping the victim,” the affidavit said. She said Alesha Miller held Elijah down with her legs and hit him multiple times as he screamed “please stop,” and he eventually went limp, the affidavit said.
The couple then put the boy in the shower. In the shower, Jenna Miller said young Elijah squeezed her arm and said, “Mommy.”