The teenage son of a go-go dancer charged with endangering a child who died in her care has told investigators he struck the 7-year-old boy in the stomach while wrestling with him.
That blow might have killed Faheem Williams, whose mummified remains were found stuffed into a plastic storage bin, two law enforcement sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said today.
"It appears that way," said one of the sources.
An autopsy determined Faheem died from starvation and blunt force trauma to the stomach, and his death was ruled a homicide. Wesley Murphy, 16, was arrested Friday night and charged with aggravated assault and two counts of child endangerment.
His mother, Sherry Murphy, had been responsible for caring for Faheem; his twin brother, Raheem; and their brother, Tyrone Hill, 4, since the boys' mother, Melinda Williams, went to jail in March 2002.
Wesley Murphy said his blow knocked Faheem unconscious, and Sherry Murphy tried unsuccessfully to revive him, the sources said. After the boy died, the teenager and his mother conspired to hide the body and the two surviving children, they said.
The wrestling match took place in September in an Irvington home where Murphy and the children lived before moving to Newark about two months ago, the sources said. That would mean Faheem's dead body was moved to the Newark apartment where it was discovered Jan. 5.
Sherry Murphy has pleaded innocent to endangerment charges. An arraignment for Wesley Murphy was not immediately scheduled. A call seeking comment from the Essex County Public Defender's Office was not immediately returned.
In an interview with the Star-Ledger of Newark before he was arrested Friday, Wesley Murphy said he was eager to talk with police because he thought his mother was being unfairly accused of child abuse.
"If I knew more stuff to help my mother, I would," he told the newspaper.
He told the newspaper he suspected Faheem's mother had killed him to prevent him from speaking of abuse he had suffered.
Melinda Williams, who had been jailed for a child endangerment conviction, was freed in August and has said she could not find Murphy or her children. It could not be immediately determined whether the charge involved one of her three boys.
The case came to light when Murphy's boyfriend went looking for his boots in the basement Jan. 4. He broke down a locked door, and found Raheem and Tyrone cowering under a filthy bed.