On November 3 2010 the Howard County Department of Social Services received a complaint that 2 year old Elijah Izeal LaJeuness had marks and bruises on his face that a doctor determined wasn’t accidental. The agency called Howard County police six days later and reported the incident. At the time, police concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to file criminal charges on anyone but five months later on April 13, around 4am, police were called to the same toddler’s home in the 9600 block of Basket Ring Road in the Village of Oakland Mills apartment complex in Columbia and found Elijah not breathing. Now 3, the toddler was rushed to Howard County General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy concluded in June that he died from asphyxiation and listed the manner of death as a homicide.
“Although there were no obvious signs of foul play at the scene, detectives began investigating the case as possibly suspicious. With further medical testing, the case has now been officially ruled as a homicide.” Howard County police said in a statement.
A year before Elijah was killed, many people including doctors and social workers reported injuries on the child that ranged from bruises on his forehead and ears to burns on the tops of his feet and voiced their concerns that the issue was ‘pushed under a rug and nothing was ever done.’
Although no one has been charged with his homicide, investigators found more evidence in the November child abuse case and decided to charge his mother, 28 year old Joaquinia Marie LaJeuness with abusing her son. Joaquinia, who police say did not cooperate with detectives in the death investigation of her son, was arrested on Friday in Meridian Michigan charged with second degree child abuse, second degree assault, a contributing course of conduct contributing to abuse, and obstructing and hindering charges. The indictment also alleges that she failed to prevent her son from being physically abused when it was reasonably possible to act and when she had a duty to do so. On Saturday she waived extradition to Maryland and is being held on $250,000 bond at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup.
Joaquinia, who has a Bachelor’s degree from California State University Sacramento in child development taught hip hop dance to children at various community centers in Columbia. At the time of Elijah’s death, Joaquinia, her 8 year old daughter, and Joaquinia’s boyfriend – who is not the child’s biological father – were the only people in the house but no one else has been arrested or charged with his murder as of yet.