Report: Boy, 6, who died was beaten with broomstick, held underwater

CBS image
CBS image

NEW YORK — Allegations of child abuse were raised to multiple agencies leading up to the death of a 6-year-old Harlem boy, reports CBS New York.

New York City boy Zymere Perkins died Monday after being rushed to a hospital. Prosecutors said Wednesday night that a preliminary autopsy showed Zymere had several broken ribs, old injuries and was severely malnourished.

Neighbors said they saw the warning signs.

“It was just bruises on top of bruises. It was all bruises,” Joanne Martinez told the station. “It was all bruises.”

The boy’s mother, 26-year-old Geraldine Perkins, and her boyfriend, Ryshein Smith, were arrested for acting in a manner injurious to a child. CBS New York reports that they both have been charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and are being held on $50,000 bond each.

The complaint said Zymere was hanging from his shirt on the back of the bathroom door after he was beaten. Perkins allegedly then placed him on the bed unconscious and went to rest and read the Bible.

Neighbors said the authorities were called on numerous occasions.

“It’s been multiple times that they’ve been here…this could have been prevented,” Maggie Disc said.

A family member said Perkins was innocent.

“Geraldine Perkins, my niece, is innocent,” the woman said.

Police said the unconscious boy was carried out of the apartment on 135th Street and Broadway by his mother. She took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“It will forever be in my mind his lifeless, little body, you know. It was so sad,” said witness Joanne Martinez.

CBS New York reports that sources said sometime early Monday, Zymere was struck repeatedly with a broken broomstick by Smith and then held underwater in the shower until he fell unconscious.

The city’s Administration for Children’s Services was reportedly called to visit the family five times since 2010, including once by a social worker at the boy’s school after bruises were noticed on him.

When CBS New York questioned Mayor Bill de Blasio about the case, he said he wasn’t going to speculate.

“What I want to know is if agencies were involved with this child — whether it’s NYPD, Department of Education, ACS — I want to know what happened and why,” the mayor said.

“And if we need to make changes, I will very aggressively make those changes,” he continued.

Dr. Mary Pulido, of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said everyone failed Zymere Perkins.

“The government cannot go it alone. In problems where there could be mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, crime everyone has to be involved. It is not acceptable to have one child die,” she said.

The mayor said he is willing to make changes, but just months ago he was put on notice about problems with ACS.

A June 16 audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer found that the agency was putting thousands of children at risk because of “shoddy investigations and poor oversight.”

ACS said it is investigating the Perkins case with the NYPD and has 60 days to complete the investigation.

The medical examiner has not released the cause of death in this case.