NORTH AUGUSTA - A North Augusta woman called her baby's father in Beech Island on Thursday, saying the child was sick and needed medicine.
Six hours later, she left a message on the answering machine saying he had died.
Baby Davon Allen's great-grandmother, Hattie Mae Allen, tried to make sense of the situation Friday night, after being told Amy Melissa Hughes had been charged in the toddler's death. According to the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Ms. Hughes and her boyfriend, Lucas Lorenzo Bailey, took part in beating the child on the head and in the abdomen Thursday.
Mrs. Allen said Ms. Hughes had wanted her grandson, David Allen, 27, to go to the store and buy medicine for the child. Mr. Allen didn't have a car, so he told her to take the 16-month-old to the emergency room, she said.
Now Mrs. Allen wonders if the baby was ever ill.
"He had just come into the world, and hadn't hurt nobody," Mrs. Allen said of Davon. "I don't see how in the world a person could do that."
Ms. Hughes, 22, and Mr. Bailey, 19, are being held in the Aiken County Jail after being denied bond at a hearing Friday evening. Both are charged with homicide by abuse, according to Detective Tim Thornton.
Police responded to a 911 call at a home on the 1200 block of Radiance Drive around 6 p.m. Thursday. Detective Thornton said Mr. Bailey placed the call.
At the home, officers and emergency workers found the toddler dead on a bare mattress in a bedroom, Detective Thornton said. Ms. Hughes was not at home and was said to have been running an errand when officers arrived, he said.
Authorities originally suspected the child died from an overdose of Dimetapp and Benadryl - over-the-counter cold medications. Detective Thornton would not elaborate on why they had that suspicion.
Police sent the child's body to Newberry, S.C., where the medical examiner performed an autopsy Friday morning and determined that Davon died from internal injuries and suffered blows to the head and stomach.
Chief Lee Wetherington said police suspect both adults were involved, but he could not say which of the two dealt the blows.
"It's under investigation," the chief said.
On Friday night, Barbara Larke, mother of Mr. Allen and grandmother of Davon, said her son was devastated by the child's death.
She said Ms. Hughes had two daughters before she and Mr. Allen had Davon 16 months ago.
The couple soon split, but Mr. Allen took an active role in his son's life, spending time with him during the week and on weekends, she said.
Neither Mrs. Larke nor Mrs. Allen, who lives with her great-grandson off Atomic Road, knew where Mr. Allen was late Friday.
"He's very upset," Mrs. Larke said.
Davon had been walking for about six months. He recently started forming words. Like many babies, his first word was "Dad," Mrs. Larke said.
"He couldn't make complete sentences, but he could get his point across," she said.
The South Carolina Department of Social Services was called Friday and took custody of Ms. Hughes' 5- and 6-year-old daughters, authorities said.
The chief said he had no indication DSS was ever called to the residence before Thursday.
A man who answered the phone at Ms. Hughes' home late Friday and identified himself as her brother said, "She's innocent until proven guilty. That's all we're going to say.
"They better have the evidence, and they better be able to show it."
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225.