Child dies, mom charged with murder

Posted at 5:28 AM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 23:51:44-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- A 5-year-old boy who was allegedly beaten by his mother and found injured in a Middletown motel died at 8:02 a.m. Friday, according to the Middletown Police Department.

Police sent the boy, Alexander Stephens, and his 6-year-old brother to the hospital Wednesday night after responding to reports of a dead child at Middletown's Parkway Inn.

Their mother, Theresa Hawkins-Stephens, 26, and two others were charged Wednesday night with two counts of felonious child endangering and assault. After the boy's death Friday, Hawkins-Stephens was also charged with murder, as was her friend Rachael Bostian, 29.

The boys' aunt, Kristen Nott, told WCPO by phone Friday evening that the rest of the family had "no idea what was going on."

"We didn't even know how they got into Cincinnati," she said.

Nott had invited Hawkins-Stephens and the boys to live with her in her Columbus-area home early last year, after Hawkins-Stephens told Nott that Bostian had been beating her sons, according to Nott. After about five or six months, Nott said, Hawkins-Stephens got a "great job offer" and took the boys and moved out.


It wasn't too long after they left, Nott said, that Hawkins-Stephens cut off all contact with her family.

"All of a sudden, she blocked us from Facebook, and when I say, "Us," I mean everyone: Her mother, her sister, me, my brother, my brothers, my dad, literally everyone she used to know, she blocked all of us.

"No one was able to contact her," Nott said.

Nott said the boys' father woke up one morning to a Facebook post, with the headline announcing the women's arrests.

"You couldn't even recognize (Alex)," Nott said. "His whole face was completely black and swollen, and he only weighed 24 pounds. He was so tiny. His entire body was covered in bruises.

"It just makes no sense to me."

Both women had bond set at $1 million Friday morning.

Watch Hawkins-Stephens appear in court in the video player below.



Bostian's mother, Ramona Bostian, 56, was also arrested Wednesday. Her bond was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing for all three women was set for 1:30 p.m. May 6 in Middletown Municipal Court.

Court documents allege that Hawkins-Stephens tied up her 5-year-old and 6-year-old sons with blankets for stealing food, punched and slapped the kids on the face and body and left them tied up for more than 24 hours without food and water. The document states the incident occurred in a wooded area near the river on North Verity Parkway.

The Middletown motel room where officials found the boys.

Officers found the 5-year-old suffering from life-threatening injuries at the motel Wednesday night and administered first aid, according to Middletown Assistant Chief of Police Mark Hoffman. The child was taken to Atrium Medical Center and then transferred to Cincinnati Children's Hospital due to the seriousness of the injuries.

As officers were investigating the situation at the motel, they located the child's 6-year-old brother concealed under a blanket in the room. The 6-year-old was also suffering from serious injuries and immediately transported to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

The 911 caller told a dispatcher that they had been camping. The child "escaped the tent ... and he was gone for a couple days. And some kids got a hold of him and messed him up real bad," she said.

All three woman are originally from Licking County east of Columbus, Ohio, and had recently moved to Franklin.