I-Team: 4-year-old victim in abuse, homicide case identified

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A prosecutor is calling an alleged child murder case one of the worst she’s seen in 10 years.

Crystal Stephens, the woman facing a murder charge in connection with the death of the 4-year-old little boy, appeared in court Thursday.

The 8 News NOW I-Team learned exclusively that the child was found Monday. A Metro Police spokesperson said investigators reported injuries all over his body.

According to Metro Police, a call for help for the child was made early Monday morning.  Authorities were told the child drowned in a bathtub, but when investigators showed up at the apartment located on Silverado Ranch near Bermuda, police didn’t find any signs of a drowning.  

Police also said the child was unconscious. He was taken to the hospital where he died.

The I-Team learned a judge with the Las Vegas Justice Court was going to let Stephens walk out of jail after the boy was found with severe and deadly injuries in her care.

RELATED STORY: I-Team: Judge was going to release suspect in boy’s death on own recognizance before child died

“The autopsy in this case took almost eight hours due to the horrific injuries to this child,” said Jacqueline Bluth, the chief deputy district attorney. “In the ten years I’ve been doing child cases, this is probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”

An autopsy usually takes between two and four hours; not eight hours.

Heartbroken family members spoke with the 8 News NOW I-Team about the tragedy. They have identified the child as Brandon Steckler Jr.  They said he was autistic.  His nickname was Tuku, which means King too Cool.”

There are still questions surrounding little Tuku’s death.

An arrest report released Thursday night said the child had rectal trauma, along with lacerations and skin abrasions to his private parts. The report said he also had rib fractures, contusions, and abrasions over his entire body, burns, and rat bites.  Little Brandon Steckler Jr. was malnourished, according to the report.

The child’s father, Brandon Steckler, told the I-Team that he didn’t know Stephens. He says he also doesn’t know why she was even with his child.

The arrest report said Stephens took the child in because the child’s mother was in a shelter and she couldn’t take care of him. She said she had the child and his 5-year-old sibling for 2 weeks.

Steckler and the child’s mother are estranged.  He described his son as a kindred soul with love and innocence who touched everyone he came across.

Because the father was so distraught and couldn’t go on camera, a family friend read a statement to the I-Team on the father’s behalf.

WEB EXTRA: Friend of Brandon Steckler reads statement on his behalf

 

The group of veterans who are friends with the father asked for prayers of support, and for anyone with information to come forward.

“Justice needs to be served here,” said Ann Bird, a family friend.  “Little Brandon, Tuku; He didn’t die in vain. I won’t let that; you know, this is terrible. I won’t ever let that little boy’s name be forgotten.

Stephens was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. She currently doesn’t have bail.  

Family friends are now trying to raise money to bury the child.  To donate go here.

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