D.C. police who are investigating the case of a 2-year-old boy who was found dead in his Southeast Washington home two weeks ago have not been able to interview everyone who was in the house when the child was killed, police officials and family members said last week.
Police refused to say whether they have identified any suspects in the death of Julio Guy Thomas, which has been ruled a homicide. A police investigator close to the inquiry said that police want to question, as one part of their investigation, Julio's siblings.
The four children, along with Julio's father, were at the home in the 700 block of Kentucky Avenue SE when the child died, police and family members said. They were placed in foster or relative care by the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency after Julio's death.
Court-appointed lawyers and lawyers for the children's parents are negotiating about the children's custody, and police "haven't been able to talk to anybody," the police investigator said, adding that police are "frustrated."
"Because of the concern about how the baby died, [officials] thought it was best that all the kids be removed from the home," the investigator said, adding that detectives may not talk to the children until the custody issues have been resolved.
The D.C. medical examiner's office, which completed an autopsy two days after the toddler died July 10, concluded that Julio had suffered blunt force trauma to his torso and head, causing brain swelling. The child also had a subdural hemorrhage at the base of his skull, rib fractures and lacerations to his liver and spleen.
Teresa Thomas, 41, who is eight months pregnant, said in an interview that she was at a hospital when police delivered the news of her son's death.
"I was just told that my son had passed, and my sister didn't [even] want them to tell me that because I was having problems with my pregnancy," Thomas said. "I read a police report, and it had the word homicide in it. I was glued to that word, because I couldn't believe that somebody had killed him. It just didn't seem possible, and it just didn't register."
Julio usually slept in his mother's room, she said. "I put Julio's bed in my bedroom because he was just so shy and timid and because of his age," Thomas said.
The child was found unresponsive on a bedroom floor about 6:45 a.m. and was pronounced dead at D.C. General Hospital at 7:25 a.m., police said.
Julio's father, Raymond L. Minor, 39, declined to comment for this report.
The D.C. Child Fatality Review Committee is scheduled to examine the circumstances of Julio's death in the first week of August, said Sharon James, the committee's coordinator. The committee, which is administered jointly by the D.C. health and human services departments, is charged with reviewing all unnatural child deaths in the District.
In addition, the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency must conduct a review if it has received a previous report of abuse or neglect at the home, said Judith Meltzer, of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the agency's court-appointed monitor.
Karen Kushner, a spokeswoman for the agency's court-appointed receiver, Ernestine F. Jones, declined to discuss Julio's case, citing confidentiality rules.
Julio was buried on Saturday, July 17, his mother said.
Metro researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.