US

Father Fatally Punched 5-Year-Old Son for Eating His Father’s Day Cheesecake, Prosecutors Say

By Isabel van Brugen

A Milwaukee father is facing a homicide charge, accused of fatally punching his 5-year-old son this month after he allegedly ate some of his Father’s Day cake, prosecutors said.

Travis Stackhouse, 29, is accused of killing his son, who suffered a laceration to his sternum, bruising to both eyes, and a cut lip and was pronounced dead on June 22.

The father told police he hit his son in the stomach and face on June 21, because he was “upset that others were eating” his Father’s Day cake, Fox6 reported.

When questioned by police, the 29-year-old initially said his son was injured after tumbling down the stairs. However, paramedics, who arrived at the scene at 2 a.m. on June 22, didn’t believe the boy’s injuries were consistent with a fall, reported 11 Alive.

The boy’s brother, 6, also told authorities he had been punched in the stomach and back.

Stackhouse told officers he was at their home with his girlfriend and five children when he saw his son “somersaulting down the stairwell” after playing Nerf basketball upstairs with another child. He later said his son vomited after complaining of feeling unwell.

A criminal complaint said that Stackhouse was outraged after seeing three of his children, including the 5-year-old, eating his cake.

The complaint added that he said he went out to meet friends while his girlfriend slept on the couch, and when he returned home at around 2 a.m., his girlfriend was on the phone with 911 saying she realized there was something wrong with their son, according to Fox6.

The father eventually admitted he lashed out at the 5-year-old for eating his cheesecake, as he only got to eat one piece, reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

According to the outlet, Stackhouse also admitted to police that he was holding a metal rod when he struck the boy with the back of his hand, adding that it would make punches painful.

He also admitted to police his girlfriend has often warned him not to hit the children so hard.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the criminal complaint said that when the father was interviewed by police, he couldn’t tell them the birth dates of his five children and he wasn’t able to spell their names.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office found that the 5-year-old boy suffered a ruptured stomach, bruised kidneys, and a torn adrenal gland, and died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen. The boy’s death was classified as a homicide.

The 29-year-old was charged by prosecutors on Wednesday with one count of first-degree reckless homicide.

Stackhouse is currently held on $25,000 bond, and if convicted, faces up to 60 years behind bars.

Mother Allegedly Murders Toddler

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a mother has been charged with murder and child endangerment in connection with the death of her 17-month-old son last year.

It comes as prosecutors on June 26 alleged during a detention hearing that 41-year-old Gloucester Township resident, Heather Reynolds, murdered her toddler in May 2018 because she believed he was getting in the way of her affair, reported ABC 7.

The woman suffocated her toddler son, Axel, Camden County prosecutors said. However, Reynold’s attorney argued that she wasn’t involved in her son’s death.

Reynolds carried her unresponsive son in her arms as she ran from her home screaming for help from her neighbors, officials told the media.

Emergency services rushed to the scene where they found Axel unconscious on the lawn of his Reynold’s home where he was pronounced dead shortly later.

The boy’s face was reportedly bruised and he smelled of rubbing alcohol, which led prosecutors to believe that Reynold suffocated her son using a cleansing wipe containing various chemicals, reported NJ.com.

After an autopsy was performed on the boy’s body, it was found that his cause of death was asphyxia. Traces of chemicals were found in the boy’s blood, reported Crime Online.

Axel’s manner of death, which was initially considered suspicious, was ruled a homicide.

Before the boy’s death, prosecutors claimed that Reynolds was having an extramarital affair with a man while her husband wasn’t around.

She allegedly said her son “was an obstacle to her relationship with her boyfriend,” Assistant Prosecutor Peter Gallagher said on June 26.

The 41-year-old faces a possible life sentence if found guilty, a judge said. He ruled Wednesday she will remain behind bars until her trial.