Ahizya Osceola, a three-year-old toddler reported missing from his father’s home in Hollywood, Florida, Thursday morning was the subject of an all-out search throughout the day. But that search ended in the worst possible way when the boy was found dead in that same house, hidden in what police termed “an obscure location.”
The boy’s mother, Karen Cypress, said on Thursday morning that Ahizya, whose parents are members of the Seminole Tribe, was with his father, Neslon Osceola and the dad’s wife, Ahizya’s stepmother, Thursday morning. But by the morning, the boy had disappeared from his bed.
For an update to this tragic story, please see below.
“Please, please call the police department, so I can have my baby back,” the frantic mom, who also has 18-month-old twins, said at a press conference during the day Thursday. “He’s my heart, he’s my life. I don’t know what I would do. I just want him home.”
Tragically, however, instead of returning home to his mother, Ahizya Osceola will be buried in the ground of Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in Clewiston, Florida, — after the Broward County coroner releases his body back to the family.
Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said that the toddler’s death would be subject to “a criminal investigation until proven otherwise,” and that family members were cooperating with police as they try to figure out how the child perished.
Nelson Osceola said in Thursday that he had last seen his son at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning. He was checking on the boy’s baby sister at the time. But he assumed that Ahizya was still sleeping at 7:30 when he departed for work.
Everything seemed fine, and he checked in with his wife later, but she fell back to sleep with the couple’s eight-month-old baby at about 9 a.m. By the time she awoke, Ahizya was nowhere to be found, the deceased boy’s father told the Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
The young Osceola boy was reported missing at 11:48 a.m. His body was discovered shortly before midnight on Thursday.
Chief Fernandez would give no further details, declining to reveal exactly where the “obscure location” inside the home actually was, and whether the child’s body showed any visible evidence of abuse or foul play.
“We are interviewing anyone who had access to the household,” Fernandez said. “Part of the investigation is, how did we find the child deceased? Why did he end up in the condition that he ended up in?”
The police chief did say that the place where the body of three-year-old Ahizya Osceola was found was “not visible to the average person looking through the house.”
UPDATE: Ahizya’s stepmom, Analiz Osceola, was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter in connection with the little boy’s death. Police say that the 24-year-old woman was responsible for “catastrophic internal injuries that would have caused (Ahizya) to be in extreme pain but would not cause him to die immediately.”
The toddler’s body was found stuffed into a box hidden behind a washing machine in the laundry room of the home where he lived with his father and stepmother. Police charge that the stepmother stuffed him into two trash bags, then the box, after trying to resuscitate the suffering child at about 4 a.m the night prior to the missing persons report being filed.
Ahizya’s autopsy found that he was covered “head to toe” with bruises, suffered from a lacerated liver, ruptured pancreas, and spiral fracture to his foot, among other injuries.
In his three years, Ahizya Osceola was mentioned in 127 pages of reports by child services investigators, who investigated his situation four times. His stepmother had been the subject of two prior neglect investigations and her mother, who also lived in the home, had two child abuse allegations against her.
His father, Nelson Osceola, also had a criminal record and had been investigated twice for abuse.
In April, the stepmom pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“It is alarming to think that someone would allow this child to stay in that household,” said Police Chief Fernandez said of Ahizya Osceola. “We know today that should have never happened. That child should have been removed.”
[Image: Hollywood, Florida, Police Department]