Three days after the death of a North Augusta toddler, both sides of Davon Allen's extended family are struggling to deal with the loss.
They're also trying to make sense of the arrest of his mother and her boyfriend on charges of homicide by abuse.
"A 16-month-old baby leaving this world like that? I can't understand it," Hattie Mae Allen, Davon's great-grandmother, said Saturday.
Davon's father, David Allen, will start making funeral arrangements for his youngest child Monday when police release his son's body, said Barbara Larke, Mr. Allen's mother.
Police found the boy dead Thursday night on a bare mattress in a bedroom of his mother's house in the 1200 block of Radiance Drive. An autopsy Friday revealed that Davon died from internal injuries and had suffered blows to the head and stomach.
The toddler's mother, Amy Melissa Hughes, 22, and Ms. Hughes' boyfriend, Lucas Lorenzo Bailey, 19, were charged with homicide by abuse and are being held in the Aiken County jail without bond.
If found guilty of the charge, Ms. Hughes or Mr. Bailey could be sentenced to life in prison, depending on who actually delivered the deadly blows. If one of them helped in the beating or kept information from the police, that person could receive a sentence of 20 years, according to South Carolina law.
Ms. Hughes was supposedly running an errand when Mr. Bailey called 911, police said. Ms. Hughes had told people that the toddler was sick, and it was originally thought that he died from an overdose of over-the-counter medicines.
North Augusta Department of Public Safety authorities have said that both took part in the beating, but police were not sure who was responsible for the death.
Ms. Hughes' family members who gathered at her house Saturday afternoon said they were grieving for the boy's death but refused to believe his mother was responsible.
"She's never been arrested for anything violent," said a man who would not give his name but identified himself as Ms. Hughes' brother. "Her other kids never came by with any bruises."
Ms. Hughes has two daughters, ages 5 and 6, who were taken into custody by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. The daughters were Davon's half sisters.
Mr. Allen was trying to face the sudden loss of his son, who he had spent time with weekly since he and Ms. Hughes broke up a year ago, Mrs. Larke said.
"He's not ready or able to deal with the questions that are being asked," she said of her son. "He's coping - he's very upset, but he's coping."
Staff writer Chasiti Kirkland contributed to this article.
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227.