Murder charge added against child-care provider in Fort Wayne toddler’s death

Vanryn (Courtesy of the Allen County Sheriff's Department)

A man now faces a murder charge in connection with the death of a toddler in his care.

Mitchell Vanryn, 27, had been arrested Friday on preliminary charges of Level 1 felony aggravated battery and Level 2 felony domestic battery, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Allen Superior Court.

On Wednesday, a charge of murder was also filed against him, according to electronic court records.

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Vanryn is charged in connection with the death of his live-in girlfriend’s son, Malakai Michael Garrett, 2, of Fort Wayne. The boy was taken by Vanryn to Fire Station No. 13, 6727 N. Clinton St., about 4:40 p.m. Nov. 29 and later died at a local hospital.

According to Allen Superior Court documents, the following allegedly occurred:

Vanryn was taking care of Garrett from 7:30 a.m. Nov. 29 when the boy’s mother left home until the boy’s sister returned home at 4:10 p.m. The boy’s mother said the child was asleep when she left. He said he put the boy down for a nap at 1 p.m., but he was unresponsive three hours later.

He slapped the boy’s face and then put cold water on him in the bathtub but couldn’t get a response and took him to the fire station at 4:46 p.m.

Garrett was pronounced dead at Parkview Regional Medical Center at 6:16 p.m. by a doctor who told authorities he saw several bruises on the boy’s groin, front and back torso, both cheeks, and the back of his head. Some of the bruises appeared to be two or three days old.

The bruises were corroborated by an autopsy that found severe injury to the boy’s internal organs, including his stomach, liver, small intestine and a lacerated pancreas that appeared to come from blows by a closed fist hours before his death.

Garrett’s death is the 36th homicide in Allen County for 2017.