Two women have been charged with obstructing official business as Jackson Township police investigate the Monday death of an 19-month-old boy.
JACKSON TWP. A 1 1/2-year-old living at a township motel was the victim in a child abuse allegation pending in Cuyahoga County, and there are indications the boy's four siblings were victims of abuse.
The child was pronounced dead Monday at Mercy Medical Center after being found unresponsive around 5:30 a.m. in a room of the Motel 6 at 6880 Sunset Strip NW.
Jackson police, the Stark County Coroner and Stark County prosecutors are investigating the child's death. Investigators still are waiting for autopsy results to determine how the child died.
Police have charged two women who were in the hotel room with felonies, contending they misled investigators looking into the boy's death. Meanwhile, the four other children staying at motel room have been placed in the custody of the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services.
On Wednesday, police charged the boy's mother, Stephanie Buchanan, 26, and a second woman, 25-year-old Jasmin P. Nance, with obstructing official business. The motel is the last known address for both women, police said.
Police said they charged Buchanan because she gave several aliases for Nance and misled them about their relationship. Police said Nance also gave officers several aliases as she tried to hide from the felony charge pending in Cuyahoga County.
Jackson police originally arrested Nance Monday afternoon on a felony charge of endangering children filed in Cuyahoga County. According to court records, she was indicted in August 2016 on two counts of child endangering for an incident in April 2016 involving a 6-month-old child.
Officials said the victim in the child endangering case is the same child who died.
According to paperwork filed by Job and Family Services to get temporary custody of the children, Buchanan and Nance have been involved in a relationship. They were living in Cleveland in 2016 when Cuyahoga County social workers investigated an incident where the boy — then about 6 months old — suffered a fractured arm. That investigation led to the child endangering charges.
At that point, Buchanan and Nance broke off their relationship. But they reconciled and left Ohio for Georgia to avoid Nance's arrest. A warrant for Nance was issued on Aug. 29, 2016, when she failed to appear for arraignment on the child endangering charges.
Police said the couple and the children had been living at the Motel 6 in Jackson Township for more than 30 days.
Children told Job and Family Services investigators that they referred to Nance as "dad" or "daddy." The oldest of the four children, a 9-year-old girl, told investigators that she routinely was instructed to give Benadryl to the other children — a boy and girl who are 6-year-old twins and a 4-year-old girl.
All four of the siblings had a variety of injuries that were healing, according to the Job and Family Services' complaint filed in Stark County Family Court. One child had excessive bruising on her neck, belt marks on her abdomen, scratches and cigarette burns. Another girl had belt marks, while the boy had healing wounds to his head, according to the filing.
Buchanan, meanwhile, has been involved with Stark County Children Services since she was a child. She gave birth at age 13 and gave that child up for adoption, according to the complaint.
Cuyahoga County child protective services investigators have been dealing with Buchanan since 2009. The agency's concerns centered on a lack of appropriate supervision for the children, unstable housing, Buchanan's mental health and special needs of her children.
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