WARNING: The details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
The father of a 19-month-old toddler found dead Friday has been charged with second-degree murder.
Police arrested the 26-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman Saturday, after releasing suspect photos as well as images of the clothes the boy was found in. Police said the couple was found on an ETS bus.
On Monday afternoon, police said the cause of the boy’s death was trauma to the head.
“He suffered a lot of trauma,” said Staff Sgt. Duane Hunter with the EPS Homicide Section.
WATCH: Edmonton police say the boy died of trauma to the head. Hear from Staff Sgt. Duane Hunter of the EPS Homicide Section
Hunter said the boy had “bruises all over his body” and police have yet to determine a motive for the “heinous crime.”
“The marks on the baby’s body will be considered evidence,” he said.
“He was living a terrible life full of violence and one that is incredibly sad and you don’t even want to speak about.”
The body of Anthony Joseph Raine was discovered Friday afternoon next to Good Shepherd Anglican Church in north Edmonton. Investigators later determined the boy’s remains were left there three days earlier, on Tuesday, April 18.
“We believe from the evidence we had at the scene, he had passed before he was placed at the church,” Hunter said.
The boy’s aunt, Brandi Raine, said Anthony, who was born in September 2015, had been staying with his father while his mom was going to school.
The boy’s mother was informed of her son’s death when police officers knocked on her door in Maskwacis late Saturday night, Raine said. The boy’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of a funeral.
After the arrests, police thanked both the public and the Edmonton Transit System for their help.
Hunter said the investigation has been tough on everyone involved.
“We have a lot of support networks in place, so we are well looked after and we take care of one another,” he said. “I’m a dad with three kids. It weighs heavy on everyone.”
Joey Stanley Crier, 26, and Tasha-Lee Mack, 25, are charged with one count each of second-degree murder, criminal negligence causing death, assault and failing to provide necessaries of life. Crier is also charged with assault causing bodily harm.
Police said both were the toddler’s guardians. Hunter said Crier was the boy’s father and Mack is Crier’s girlfriend.
Crier’s sister Andrea said she was devastated when she heard her nephew was dead.
“I felt sick to my stomach. There’s no words that can explain what I was feeling. Just discovering that, you know; it’s really heartbreaking. … I hope he didn’t lay there and suffer, you know. That poor little boy.”
She said Crier and Mack were staying at her house with baby Anthony until Sunday.
There is no indication that Children’s Services had ever been involved with this family, Hunter said.
Watch below: While police have charged two people in the death of an Edmonton toddler, they still don’t have a motive. But they say it’s clear Anthony Raine suffered ongoing abuse. Shallima Maharaj spoke with the boy’s aunt about the accusations her brother is facing. WARNING: Disturbing content.
Crier and Mack appeared in court Monday morning via CCTV and the case was put over until May 8.
On Monday evening, the Raine family issued a statement about Anthony’s death:
There needs to be some clarity provided for the tragic situation.
First off, the family never wanted this tragedy to become the media circus it has. There was an informal arrangement between both parents. While Anthony was in the care of his father, it was assumed that adequate care was being provided and there was no need for concern. While he was on visitations with his maternal family he was provided with great love and care.
Secondly, all donations provided through the GoFundMe (page) will be allocated to all funeral costs such as the headstone, food and other costs. Any remaining money will be donated to Little Warriors to aid other families and children undergoing traumatic experiences as well.
It would be greatly appreciated if privacy and respect were given to the grieving family at this time. Anthony will be greatly missed and his little soul needs to be able to rest in peace.
A vigil will be held Tuesday night at Good Shepherd Anglican Church (15495 Castle Downs Road) where Anthony’s body was found. The Anglican Diocese of Edmonton said all members of the community are welcome to drop in between 7 p.m. And 9 p.m., to light a votive candle or to sit for a time of prayer or silence and remember the toddler.