Mother grieves loss of 2-year-old son, needs help with funeral costs

Published: Oct. 16, 2017 at 9:10 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 at 6:07 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - A mother is grieving the loss of her two-year-old son and needs financial help so she can give her son "a proper homegoing celebration."

On Saturday, Cali'Deen Jones' father, Aaron Christopher Watford, 26, and his girlfriend, Telicia Monet Russell, 26, were arrested in connection with the boy's death.

"All he did was smile," said Iris Ford, a family friend who knows Cali's mother Chquita Graham.  "All he wanted to do was live and that opportunity was taken away from him."

On Friday, police responded to John Randolph Medical Center after receiving a report that the toddler was brought into the emergency department, unconscious and with injuries.

Ford says they don't even know what those injuries were.

"As of right now they still haven't completed the autopsy so we still don't know the cause of death," said Ford.

Hospital staff tried to help the two-year-old, but the child was later pronounced dead. Hopewell police and Hopewell Child Protective Services initiated a joint investigation.

Ford says the boy's father had legal custody and moved to Hopewell from Virginia Beach with Russell, Cali and Cali's twin sister. According to court documents, their home was on North 14th Street. The search warrant has been sealed.

Ford says the twins' mother was fighting to get her children back.

"He didn't ask for his dad to take him," said Ford.  "Cali knew his mom. Cali wanted to be with his mom."

As a result of the investigation, police charged Watford with four felony counts of child endangerment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Russell was charged with four felony counts of child endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"There's a lot of anger," said Ford. "It's honestly unbelievable. It's like we're stuck in a dream that we can't get out of."

Ford says Cali's mother is struggling to pay for her son's home-going service. There's an online fundraiser to help pay for it.

Watford and Russell are due back in court in December.

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