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May 26, 2023

Bartow Couple charged with aggravated manslaughter of a three-year-old child

On May 13, 2023, PCSO Homicide detectives arrested 24-year-old Takesha WilliamsTakesha Williams and 25-year-old Efrem Allen, Jr. for one count each of Negligent Child Abuse Causing Great Harm (F2) resulting in the death of a 3-year-old toddler.  

Watch Sheriff Judd's news conference here:

Today, May 26, 2023, the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court upgraded the charges to Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (F1).

According to the affidavit, on Friday, May 12, 2023 at around 3:00 p.m., Bartow Fire Rescue responded to a report of an unresponsive child. When emergency responders arrived,Efrem Allen they found the child connected to a ventilator breathing machine, but he did not have a pulse. The toddler was transported to an area hospital where he died.

Homicide detectives observed extensive injuries on the child, to include a severely bloated belly and numerous open sores. 

Please see the following narrative from the affidavit:
On Friday, May 12, 2023 at approximately 1503 hours, Bartow Fire Rescue responded to 1050 Golfview Avenue #1205 in Bartow in reference to an unresponsive three year old child/decedent, REDACTED, who did not have a pulse and was connected to a ventilator breathing machine. The decedent was transported to Bartow Regional Heath where he was pronounced deceased on Friday, May 12, 2023 at 1552 hours. 

The decedent was located lying supine on a hospital bed with extensive injuries/trauma, to include large avulsions on his buttocks, to where the rectum was non-existent. This was so severe the victim's colon was visible. Several abrasions were located on his back, which were consistent with bed sores. The decedent smelled of decomposition and rigor mortis was non-existent. The decedent's stomach was bloated and appeared to have semi-marbling and was green in color. Photographs were provided to Dr. Rennie at Bartow Regional Health, who advised the open sores are consistent with child neglect. The open sores were to the body were severe with major open wounds on the victim's body resulting in permanent disfigurement.

It was learned in the summer of 2020, the decedent was involved in a near drowning at a vacation home in Davenport, Florida. Since 2020, the decedent has been connected to a ventilator, due to his health condition as a result of the drowning. 

Both, REDACTED, Takesha Williams, and REDACTED, Efrem Allen Jr., were interviewed separately and advised Miranda by a prepared Miranda warning card, to which they acknowledged, understood, and agreed to speak. In summary, Takesha Williams advised the decedent lives with her and her other two children, a 2 year old and a 10 month old, which are all shared with the REDACTED, Efrem Allen. Efrem Allen does not reside in the home; however, he has been assisting Tekesha Williams with taking care of the decedent. Efrem has been taking care of the child with Tekesha daily for the past month; the timeframe in which the large open wounds originated and progressed. 

A home health nurse has been visiting the home since 2020, but the REDACTED decided to switch health care companies in the past one to two months; however, they have not been to the home since this time. The REDACTED advised they were taught how to tend to the decedent and are knowledgeable on how to change out the decedent's trach and other medical needs. Since the last month, Takesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr., noticed the decedent had large open sores, which started forming after the care of the home health nurse. They both informed they knew the sores were extensive and were afraid to contact anybody, due to being afraid they would have their children taken away by DCF. Addiionally, they stated people would assume it was neglect; however, they stated the victim is not neglected.

During the night of Thursday, May 11, 2023, the decedent appeared to be alive, per Takesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr. and the pulse oximeter was functioning. During the morning of Friday, May 12, 2023, Tekesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr. noticed the decedent's stomach was bloated. Tekesha Williams noticed the decedent was cold to the touch and the pulse oximeter was malfunctioning. Tekesha Williams waited until approximately 1500 hours to call 9-1-1. Both, Takesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr., advised they knew they should have contacted a health care professional based on the declining health of the decedent in the past month; however, they failed to do so. 

During the course of this investigation, it was determined the defendants, Takesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr., committed the criminal offense of Child Neglect with Great Bodily Harm. Both, Takesha Williams and Efrem Allen Jr., were arrested and transported to the Polk County Sheriff's Office-Sheriff's Processing Center.

Today, May 26, 2023, the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court upgraded the charges to Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child (F1).

“I’ve seen some truly horrific events in my long law enforcement career, but I have never, ever seen anything as sad, as bone-chilling, and as sickening as what this baby suffered before finally perishing from the despicable acts of these two criminals.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff