Mom: Family friend abused 3-month-old baby before he died

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Ashley Johnson is haunted by thoughts of her son.

"When we lay here in this house, we see him. I'll be thinking I hear him crying or he's just right here," she said.

She last talked to her son Sunday. She was out of town last week, and that was the last time she would hear the joyful sounds of her 3-month-old boy.

Family and friends gathered at a Grandview apartment complex to honor Stephon with a candlelight vigil. Johnson says that apartment is where paramedics came to take him to the hospital.

She says a family friend had asked to watch the child, and Stephon's father had agreed. When that friend picked up Stephon last Sunday morning, Johnson's sister watched a healthy baby leave.

"He was fine, he was happy," she said with tears in her eyes.

A few hours later when that friend was supposed to bring the baby back, Johnson says she insisted she could keep him a little longer and bring him back in the morning. His father checked back.

"And when he called to check on the baby, she said 'Well the baby has a fever, and I'm gonna bring him home' and he said 'Okay, bring him home' and she never showed up," Johnson said.

That's when the family says they started getting phone calls from the hospital. Doctors had devastating news.

"They said that he was shaken, and it caused his brain to swell and bleed and he choked on the blood," Johnson said. She said the doctors suspected child abuse based on bruises found on Stephon's tiny body.

He was on life-support in the hospital until Thursday.

"That was the hardest day of my life," Johnson said of having to pull the plug. Now, she and the rest of her family are waiting for prosecutors to press charges against a family friend.

"I never thought something like this would happen. She was like a sister to me," she said. Police have not confirmed pending charges, but even that small closure would not be enough for Johnson.

"It won't bring my son back. There is still a piece of me that's going to always be missing," she said.

Now the family says on top of their heartache, they will struggle with medical bills and funeral costs.

Services for Stephon will be held at Forest Grove Church in Kansas City, Kansas on Saturday afternoon. The public is invited to attend.

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