The night before 1-year-old Legacy Beauford died, he was crying uncontrollably.
That frustrated his mother’s boyfriend, Keishawn Gordon, who was babysitting for him overnight on Wednesday in the family’s apartment in the Bronx’s Webster Houses.
When police questioned Mr. Gordon about Legacy’s injuries after the baby’s death, he initially told investigators that he gently squeezed the boy’s stomach and tossed him in the air to pacify him, according to a criminal complaint filed in court after Mr. Gordon was arrested on Friday.
But he later admitted to punching him and sexually assaulting him, the police said. The medical examiner found bruises all over Legacy’s face and body, several broken ribs and a lacerated liver, which caused him to bleed to death internally, according to the criminal complaint.
“I was frustrated he wouldn’t stop crying,” Mr. Gordon said, according to the complaint. “He kept throwing up. I mushed him. He was irking me.”
Mr. Gordon, 23, was charged with murder and manslaughter in criminal court in the Bronx. His lawyer did not answer phone calls seeking comment on Sunday.
Since his arrest, questions have arisen about whether the police and child welfare authorities missed signs that the boy, who turned 1 in August, was being abused. The Administration for Children’s Services said it was investigating the boy’s death.
The case follows the death in August of a 7-year-old-girl, Julissia Batties, who was fatally beaten after being reunited with her birth mother. There have been no arrests in her case, but child welfare authorities, courts and the police had been in frequent contact with her family since before she was born.
The police acknowledged they responded to at least three 911 calls about a baby crying at Legacy’s home since May, including two that were reported as possible child abuse. Officers found nothing suspicious when they responded to the first call, on May 27, the police said.
The police responded on July 3 and Aug. 17 to the two subsequent reports of possible child abuse, but the responding officers reported that they had observed the children in the apartment to be in good health with no visible marks or injuries, the police said.
In addition to the three 911 calls, the authorities received at least one other report regarding the family.
A person briefed on the case, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential details, said that on July 14, city social workers and a special victims detective were assigned to investigate a report from the state’s child abuse hotline that Legacy’s older brother was being sexually abused. The police investigation was later closed, but no children were examined or interviewed, the person said.
It is unclear why the police closed the case, or how the city’s child welfare agency handled any of the calls. On Sunday, the Police Department did not respond to a question about the July 14 call, and the Administration for Children’s Services said it was forbidden by law from discussing the family’s history.
Mr. Gordon had a criminal record that included at least five arrests, including on charges of robbery in 2019 and assault in 2018, according to the police.
In a second case in recent days where a young boy was killed, neighbors and family members also cast suspicion on a mother’s partner.
On Sunday, officers patrolling the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn were flagged down to help a 4-year-old boy, Jaycee Eubanks, who was unconscious. The officers tried to revive him as they waited for an ambulance, but they were unsuccessful, and Jaycee later died at the hospital, according to the police.
While the police were in the building, they encountered neighbors who said Jaycee’s 6-year-old brother had told them that his 27-year-old stepfather had attacked him and his younger brother, according to the police.
Not long after the officers’ arrival, the stepfather called 911, threatening suicide. He was found unharmed and taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, the police said.
It is unclear whether the family has a history with the police or child welfare authorities.
Marquice Seals, 29, said he was walking up a stairwell in the building early Sunday when he heard a woman screaming, “Call an ambulance, that little boy can’t breathe! He’s not moving!”
A moment later, he said he saw Jaycee laid out in the hallway face up with his arms outstretched. His face was swollen and purple. His mother and stepfather were crying as his older brother stood close by, Mr. Seals said.
Within minutes, two officers rushed into the hallway, and one began performing CPR, he said.
Mr. Seals said the mother’s boyfriend told officers that Jaycee had fallen off the bed and had hit his head.
“It didn’t sound right,” he said. “I’m not going to pass judgment, I wasn’t there. But it didn’t sound right.”
Nikeya Birmingham, 32, who lives directly above the family, said the couple has been in the building for about a year. She said she had called the police at least four times because they were yelling at each other so loudly that it sometimes awakened her in the middle of the night.
That was the case around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, she said.
“I was yelling through the pipes, ‘Go to bed! Shut up!’” she said.
Still, she said, she never heard the children or suspected they were being abused.
“He’s supposed to be walking to school tomorrow like all these other kids, with a new backpack and new shoes,” Ms. Birmingham said of Jaycee. “Now he’ll never breathe again.”
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