The father of a year-old North Philadelphia boy has been charged with beating the child to death. Authorities said yesterday there was evidence that the boy might have been abused in the past.
Taijim Chamorro, 21, of the 2900 block of North Orkney Street, is accused of murder in the death of his son, also named Taijim Chamorro. A CAT scan disclosed that the boy had previous head injuries and rib fractures, authorities said.
Homicide Capt. Michael Costello said police were working with the city's Department of Human Services, which is contacted in cases of suspected child abuse. Costello said there might have been a previous abuse report that was deemed unfounded.
Ted Qualli, spokesman for Human Services, said the agency had "had no prior contact with this family."
The boy's father initially told detectives he fell down a dozen steps with the child in his arms on Thursday.
Chamorro said he was preparing a bath for his son and decided to get some toys for the tub that were on the first floor of the rowhouse. When he fell, he told police, the child fell with him. He said he thought the boy was OK because he continued to make normal baby sounds.
It wasn't until he undressed Taijim that he saw a red spot on the boy's body and the child began showing signs of distress, he told police.
The child's mother, who had gone to the store with the couple's 3-year-old daughter about 15 minutes earlier, returned home to find her son unconscious and the father screaming for help. They called 911 and took the boy to Episcopal Hospital. He was transferred to Temple Children's Medical Center to be treated for head trauma, police said.
At Temple, doctors ordered a CAT scan that showed the tot's previous head injuries and serious rib fractures, authorities said.
He remained on life support in critical condition until his death Saturday. An autopsy the next day confirmed that the child died of blunt-force trauma to the head, police said.
The child's mother told authorities she had noticed bruises on her son in the past and had asked Chamorro about them. The father told her the infant must have received the bruises while playing, police said. The mother told police she had never been abused and had never seen Chamorro abuse the children, authorities said.
Doctors and pathologists reported that the boy's injuries were not consistent with a fall and it was later concluded that the injuries were inflicted with a fist, authorities said.
When Chamorro was taken into custody Sunday, he gave a different story that authorities did not detail yesterday.
Yesterday, family members gathered at Chamorro's home, where they counted out $343 collected so far for the boy's funeral. They placed a shrine of candles and stuffed animals outside the rowhouse.
The suspect's father, Ramon Chamorro, 53, said his son was a good parent. He never saw his son abuse the children and was shocked to hear of the arrest, he said. "When I found out it happened, I said, 'It couldn't be,' " he said in Spanish to his sister-in-law Juanita Pacheco, 43, of New York, who translated.
Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 215-854-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writer Stephanie L. Arnold contributed to this article.