FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A Fort Smith woman whose 5-year-old stepson died in her care didn't take him to the doctor after he twice fell down a flight of stairs, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Rae Von Smith, 23, was arrested Friday (Jan. 11) in connection with first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor -- a Class D felony.
Family members say when they first heard that the young boy they identified as Messiah was gone they were in shock.
"It felt like a dream. It was unreal. My body was numb, I couldn't believe it, I was stuck. It felt like I was floating on clouds. It felt like my whole world just stopped," said Messiah's aunt Dayshuna Lowery.
Mercy Hospital called police after Smith's stepson, already deceased, arrived at the hospital with multiple bruises, abrasions, and burns "not consistent with statements provided by Smith, who was watching him", according to the affidavit.
Smith told Fort Smith police that her stepson fell down the stairs on Wednesday (Jan. 9) and suffered cuts to his face and mouth, along with burning his skin on the carpet.
Smith said she treated her stepson's wounds at home, but he fell down the stairs again.
Smith said he didn't eat all day on Thursday (Jan. 10) and didn't wake up after she laid down to sleep with him, according to the affidavit.
Smith said she first called her brother, then 911 before taking her stepson to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
"It's like losing any other family member. It wouldn't be any different, but it's a 5-year-old boy and the way that it happened just broke my family apart and I will never be the same. A part of me is gone," said Messiah's uncle Damone Ingram.
Family members remember Messiah as a smart, caring boy, with a smile that could light up a room.
They blame Smith for what happened and even go so far as to claim Smith's actions were premeditated.
Messiah's biological mother, who was married to Smith, says she needs answers.
"I just really need for her to open up and to tell me what she did to my baby. I need closure," said Lazeriah Smith.
Messiah's grandmother is also demanding justice.
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
Smith was being held Monday (Jan. 14) at the Sebastian County Detention Center with no bond set. She has a hearing Wednesday (Jan. 16) in Sebastian County Circuit Court.
In Arkansas, Class D felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.