Court Documents: Boy died from injuries consistent with blows from a fist

Malakai Garrett

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  Police arrested a Fort Wayne man Thursday in connection to the death of a two-year-old boy who was under his care.

On Friday, disturbing details surrounding the investigation into Malakai Garrett’s death were released in the affidavit for probable cause against 27-year-old Mitchell Vanryn who is facing charges of aggravated battery and domestic battery.

According to the affidavit, an autopsy determined Garrett had extensive and severe bruising in numerous locations including the chest, abdomen, back, face and head. He also had severe injuries to internal organs including the liver, stomach, small intestine as well as a lacerated pancreas. The doctor who performed the autopsy said that in his expert opinion, the injuries “were consistent with that of multiple blows and strikes from a closed fist punch.”

The Allen County Coroner’s Office on Friday ruled Malakai’s death a homicide .

The investigation began at around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, after officers took a call from a home in the 6900 block of Palmetta Court, in the Crestwood Colony neighborhood off North Clinton Street on Fort Wayne’s north side. A short time later, the toddler was dropped off at nearby Fire Station 13, along North Clinton Street. From there he was taken to a hospital in critical condition where he died a short time later.

Mugshot of 27-year-old Mitchell Vanryn (Photo Courtesy: Allen County Sheriff’s Department)
The affidavit details what investigators believe happened before the boy was dropped off at the fire station.

Amber Garrett, Malakai’s mother who is in a relationship with Vanryn, told police that Vanryn was the sole child care provider for him while she was at work Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m. On the day Malakai died, he was still asleep when she left for work at around 7:30 a.m. She said the little boy had not been feeling well the night before and had bruises on his face from falling. She also said he had been suffering from diarrhea and complained of pain to his head. He had also not been eating.

Vanryn told police that he had put Malakai down for a nap at around 1 p.m. and when the boy’s sister arrived home from school at around 4:10, he was still not awake. Vanryn told the girl to go outside and jump on a trampoline and when he went to wake the boy up he found him unresponsive. He then slapped the boy in the face and put cold water on him.

According to the affidavit, police viewed surveillance video from a neighbor that showed Vanryn running out of the home at 4:43 p.m. with Malakai, who appeared to be limp, in his arms. He then ran back into the home less than a minute later. Three minutes later Vanryn left the home again to take Malakai to the fire station.

The doctor who attended to Malakai at the hospital told investigators the boy’s body had bruises to the groin, torso, on his cheeks and the back of his head. The said the bruises appeared to be two to three days old.

Officer Michael Joyner of Fort Wayne Police Department said it was obvious to investigators that battery had occurred. After talking to the coroner, assessing bruises on the boy’s body, and interviewing Vanryn, investigators determined he is responsible for the physical abuse.

The boy’s father and grandmother told NewsChannel 15 they believe he was being neglected and abused. His mother said those allegations are false. According to them, Vanryn is the boyfriend of Garrett’s mother.

Malakai’s family is raising money for his funeral.*

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