Boy's body found in river

It may be child thrown from bridge in February

July 13, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun Reporter

Authorities recovered from the Patapsco River yesterday what they believe is the body of Turner Jordan Nelson, a 3-year-old boy who was flung from the Key Bridge five months ago.

Maryland Transportation Authority Police wrote in a statement that their detectives "responded to the scene as part of their ongoing homicide investigation" into the boy's death and said they are waiting for positive identification.

The clothing recovered from the body matched the description of what the child was wearing when he was last seen, according a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

A person operating a personal watercraft saw the body about 8 a.m. yesterday floating near the Key Bridge and made an emergency marine radio call, according to the law enforcement source. City firefighters found the body near the Seagirt Marine Terminal on the Inner Harbor side of the bridge, pulled it onto their boat and carried it to their station at Fort McHenry. Police believe the boy's father, Stephen T. Nelson, 37, drove to the bridge and tossed his child off it on Super Bowl Sunday. Then, police said, Nelson went to his mother's house and drank household cleaning fluids in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

When Nelson recovered more than a week later, he confessed to killing his son, according to police. The state charged him with first-degree murder.

The boy's mother, Natisha Johnson, 28, could not be reached yesterday. A man who answered the door at her parents' home in Gwynn Oak yesterday declined to comment but said she was out making funeral arrangements.

In a mid-February interview, the boy's mother still clung to the hope that her child was alive. "I'm always going to have that hope," she said to The Sun. "Until his body is found, I'll still hold on to that hope, even though his father blatantly said he did it."

Cpl. Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the MdTA police, which oversees safety on the Key Bridge, said that his agency had never suspended their search for the boy, which began when Turner disappeared Feb. 3.

That day, police received a call reporting a man standing on the Key Bridge, waving his hands and screaming, "No, no, no," according to police. The man left by the time officers arrived.

According to police sources, Nelson's mother placed several 911 calls that day saying her son had thrown her grandson off the bridge.

Nelson's family also could not be reached. After he was arrested, his family faxed the following statement to the paper: "Turner was Stephen's world, and he was trying very hard to spend as much time with Turner in the daytime as well as on weekends. There wasn't a day that has gone by before this tragedy that Stephen didn't speak lovingly of his son."

The couple met in 2000 and stayed together for four years. Johnson told The Sun that the relationship ended because she was uncomfortable with Nelson's drinking habits and had stopped loving him.

The couple argued in court over custody of the child. In January 2006, Nelson complained that he was not getting enough time with his son. In April 2007, Nelson secured a job at a Pasadena warehouse and asked the court for more time with the boy.

But the two parents were bickering during that time. In May 2006, Nelson filed charges against Johnson - saying that she hit him with a stick that was part of a coat rack while she was moving her belongings out of the house. In May 2007, she filed a domestic violence charge against him, saying that he had "acted threatening" toward her.

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