The aunt of a three-year-old boy who was monstrously stabbed while he slept in the middle of the night says his mother didn’t know he had been assaulted at first.
Winnipeg police laid attempted murder charges Thursday in connection with the stabbing of Hunter Haze Straight Smith, 3, who remains in hospital in grave condition.
Hunter was stabbed in the neck at his home on Pritchard Avenue early Wednesday morning.
Daniel Jensen, 33, was arrested Wednesday and he’s also charged with an earlier assault on the young child’s mother.
Investigators allege Jensen was with the child’s mother, Clarice Smith, at a Main Street address early Wednesday when the two got into a fight and she was assaulted.
They say he then went to a home in the 300 block of Pritchard Avenue, where the toddler was stabbed multiple times.
That Main Street address was a bar where Smith, her sister and Hunter’s aunt, Roxanne Moar, and Jensen were together.
Moar alleges Jensen assaulted Smith outside the bar and that he then left as Smith returned to the bar, bleeding.
Moar said she then went home where a sleeping Hunter was being babysat by his adult cousin, who was also asleep in the home.
Moar walked by Hunter’s room and saw the boy was tucked in, and left him alone.
“It looked like he was sleeping because the blanket was propped to make it cover his injuries,” Moar told Global News Thursday.
But then, about 20 minutes later, Moar‘s daughter removed the blankets on the boy and found he had been stabbed.
“Panic, shock,” said Moar of what went through her mind when she saw what had happened.
“I called 911 right after I saw and I almost fell down the stairs.
“I wasn’t thinking, I just thought ‘we need help.”
Police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray said the child was specifically targeted.
“It’s inconceivable to think that somebody would target an innocent child, probably one that was attempting to sleep at that time of night and very defenceless,” said Murray Thursday.
“I think a lot of people are having a hard time grasping that somebody would be capable of doing something like this.”
Murray said the child’s mother and the suspect were previously in a relationship, but the accused is not the boy’s biological father.
He acknowledged the accused was under a court order not to contact the mother at the time of the assault.
Moar and other family members have been gathered at Health Sciences Centre since Hunter was brought to the hospital.
Another of Hunter’s aunts, Bianca Smith, told Global News the three-year-old remains on life-support but was doing better than he was Wednesday.
“He’s fighting, he’s a fighter,” she said. “We need prayers for baby Hunter.”
Officers caught up with Jensen Wednesday afternoon and arrested him near McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue without incident.
Jensen is facing charges of attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm, failing to comply with a probation order, and six counts of failing to comply with conditions.
–With files from Joe Scarpelli