Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The Associated Press
MANASSAS, Va. - A toddler's death during a visit with his father last month in Virginia is prompting police to more closely investigate the suicide of the man's mother and the shooting death of a onetime girlfriend in the past decade.
Fifteen-month-old Prince McLeod Rams died during a three-hour, unsupervised visit with his father, Joaquin S. Rams of Manassas, police said. Police spokesman Lowell Nevill said that led police to further probe the 2008 suicide of Joaquin Rams' mother and the 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Shawn K. Mason.
The boy's mother, Hera McLeod, said the system failed to protect the boy after she fought vehemently to prevent the unsupervised visits, which were ordered by a judge in Maryland. Authorities have not yet determined how the boy died, and Rams has not been charged with a crime.
But the unusual confluence of deaths is not easily explained, said McLeod, who fled the relationship with her one-time fiance about two weeks after Prince was born.
McLeod said she has been given only a little information about her son's injuries. But she said the hospital called child protective services because of suspicious injuries, including dried blood in his nose and a bruise on his forehead.
During a custody hearing for Prince Rams in March, investigators testified Joaquin Rams is a suspect in the killing of Mason, 22, who was shot in the head in her Manassas condo in 2003.
In 2008, Rams' mother, Alma Collins, was found dead. Prince William County police at the time ruled the death a suicide. While Manassas police say all the investigations remain a high priority, Prince William County police spokesman Jonathan Perok said investigators have so far not found anything to indicate Collins' death was not a suicide.
But her son Joseph Velez said it makes no sense that his mother would have killed herself and said he has been interviewed by police investigating whether his mother's death was a homicide.
He described his half-brother as "a monster," describing how even at age 3, his younger brother attacked him on the head with a hammer he had hidden behind his back as he feigned a request for a kiss.