Father held in abuse, death of 2-year-old son Toddler was beaten, burned, police say

November 25, 1991|By Michael James

A Denton man has been charged with killing his 2-year-old son, who police say was struck in the head with a wooden board after having been beaten, burned and sexually abused in recent weeks.

Bernard Darnell Gregory, 27, who lived in the Riverview Gardens apartments, was charged with first-degree murder in the death Thursday of his son, Trayvaughn Darnell Jackson Gregory, police said.

"All I know is that what we found in that apartment wasn't natural," said Denton Police Sgt. John Herring. "It was evident that this kid had really been suffering."

Police went to the apartment at 2:45 p.m. Thursday after Mr. Gregory called them. The child was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in Easton.

Sergeant Herring said the child had severe facial welts and leg burns that appeared to have come from being dunked in scalding water.

The boy also had obvious signs of having been sexually abused, he said.

Mr. Gregory's 4-year-old daughter, who was living with her father at the time of the alleged attacks, was uninjured and showed no sign of having been mistreated, police said.

Police said the children's mother lives in Philadelphia, and Mr. Gregory had custody of them.

Mr. Gregory, an unemployed truck driver, admitted to abusing Trayvaughn during incidents of stress in recent weeks "because he was so upset about not being able to find a job," Sergeant Herring said.

Mr. Gregory also was charged with manslaughter and assault with intent to murder for the alleged beating. He told police that he struck the boy in the head several times with a heavy piece of wood.

Police also charged him with five counts of child abuse, and a variety of counts of assault and sex offenses. The additional charges stem from incidents of alleged child abuse which investigators were told had occurred on three other occasions since Nov. 10.

The daughter is now being cared for by Mr. Gregory's foster mother, who lives in Ridgely and who asked not to be identified.

"Bernard's been a wonderful person. You couldn't ask for a better son," said his foster mother, who raised him in Philadelphia from the time he was 7. "I'm just completely shocked that this has happened. I just don't know what to do or say about it."

Mr. Gregory moved his family to Caroline County from Philadelphia about a year ago, partly because he wanted to be closer to his foster mother, she said.

In recent weeks, Mr. Gregory did not show any sign of being unhappy or angry, his foster mother said. She saw Trayvaughn about two weeks ago and the boy "seemed to be just fine," she said.

Mr. Gregory "never said a word about any problems he was having, and I still can't believe that something like this could happen," his foster mother said.

Police said they were awaiting an autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office.

Mr. Gregory was being held without bond at the Caroline County Detention Center.

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