Police investigating second death of a minor in less than a month, and a state protective agency may have been able to prevent it

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PALM BAY, FL – For the second time in less than a month, we are covering the tragic news of a child dying in a manor that appears to point to abuse at the hands of at least one of their parents.

While children die from abuse every day, it isn’t often that it happens in the same small town. Last month, we told you about the death of Noah Godleski, whose father has been arrested and charged in that death (more on the story below). 

On Wednesday, November 17th, Shanquila Beckham-Williams made her initial court appearance for aggravated manslaughter of a child charges. The allegations stem from a year ago, when the mother called 9-1-1 to report her 9-month-old son was gasping for air and had stopped breathing. 

She claimed that her son, Takhari, was sitting on the floor, fell over, and hit his head. 

Here is what we know. 

The baby’s autopsy, which allowed the medical examiner to rule the death a homicide, included the following findings: multiple blunt force traumas, multiple contusions and abrasions on the head, face, torso and extremities, hemorrhages around the areas of blunt force trauma, collapsed right lung, and a large pyothorax (a collection of pus between the lungs and chest wall, considered rare with less that 200,000 cases annually). 

When Beckham-Williams was interviewed last year, she stated that prior to calling 9-1-1, she went to a neighbor’s home for help. She and the neighbor performed CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene. The child was transported to a local hospital were he was pronounced dead. 

In a follow-up interview, she told police that she had never noticed any bruising or injuries on her son after he had been watched by other people. She also stated that she never saw her other son, then 2, hit or hurt the baby. She described him as loving and caring to his younger sibling. 

The probable cause affidavit stated: 

“This investigation identified the Defendant as Victim #1’s mother and she was the primary care giver and responsible person for Victim’s welfare.

This investigation found that the Defendant failed to provide Victim #1 with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain Victim #1’s health that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of a child.

This investigation found evidence to support the the Defendant course of conduct showed recklessness, and disregard of human life…” 

Police investigating second death of a minor in less than a month, and a state protective agency may have been able to prevent it
YouTube screenshot, courtesy of WESH

In a post-arrest press conference held by Palm Bay police chief  Nelson Moya, it was also revealed that there was a long list of abuse claims reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families. DCF was notified on seven different occasions to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect in the 6 months leading up to his death.

In only three of those instances was law enforcement notified. 

Those dates were in May, July, September, and four separate instances in October. Palm Bay police say that they were notified of only the May, September and one October investigations.

“We are dealing with this, yet again, in less than three to four weeks, that I announce another child’s murder, the chief stated.”

As we also reported in the Noah Godleski case, the DCF failed to notify police of their investigations. 

DCF is required by law to do several things when they initiate an investigation of alleged abuse. One of those things is, in accordance with Title V, Chapter 39, Section 301, Part 2(a):

“The department (DCF) shall immediately forward allegations of criminal conduct to the municipal or county law enforcement agency of the municipality or county in which the alleged conduct has occurred.” 

Criminal conduct is, as defined by these statutes, a child is known or suspected to be the victim of child abuse.

It appears to be an ongoing problem within the DCF, at least as it pertains to the people who manage cases in and around Palm Bay. 

“Each allegation has to be investigated. Each instance of alleged abuse has o be examined by our officers, so that we can make an independent investigative decision based on what we see, and the things we are trained to see on scene,” Moya continued.  

Chief Moya is now calling for accountability from the DCF, alluding to the supposed issues with their investigating and reporting systems.

“The police, any other entity such as child and family services, we have one shot at each allegation. See bruises heal, injuries heal,” said Chief Moya. “This was a preventable death. As we truly collaborate with our criminal justice system, we can have a real delivery of justice to victims, especially when we can prevent them from becoming victims of murder.”

According to Fox 35 Orlando, the mother has 6 other children and is currently pregnant. They also said that they had repeated requests for comment from the Florida DCF, but so far, all of those requests had gone with no response.   

We have also issued a request for comment. This story will be updated once we receive a response, as well as any other details that emerge as part of the investigation. 

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PALM BAY, FL – Six day ago, 33-year old Jason Godleski went to the Palm Bay Police Department to report the death of his 12-year old son, Noah. He didn’t specify the cause of death to police, originally saying that he had died in his sleep.

Officers responding to the scene found the boy dead in the laundry room of the home. 

Earlier today, Godleski was arrested in connection with the death of his son.

We were able to obtain the arrest affidavit through a public record search. It detailed that the child was presumably deceased for a “lengthy” period of time and showed evidence of trauma.

Police believe that there is a history of abuse and are working to confirm that suspicion. 

According to Fox35 in Orlando: 

“They say in 2013, the girlfriend was possibly arrested for abusing Noah. In 2020, there was an allegation made by a teacher to the Department of Children and Families suspecting Noah was being abused by his father and girlfriend.”

Godleski now faces charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and failure to report death. 

Chief Nelson Moya stated:

“What we discovered was horrifying. We found a body of a 12-year-old boy. The subject in question immediately invoked his right to remain silent.

He would not provide us any additional information regarding the whereabouts of his remaining family, which included three other children and the father’s girlfriend.”

Godleski told police he knew he was going to jail, but would not answer any questions without a lawyer present. 

Police investigating second death of a minor in less than a month, and a state protective agency may have been able to prevent it
Screenshot of public records

Investigators were able to track down the girlfriend, Samarial Dubose, and the other three children in Connecticut. It is believed that Godleski drove them roughly 20 hours away, dropped them with family and returned home. 

Police were able to get a sworn statement from Dubose. What she detailed to police is beyond shocking. 

Dubose said that on or about October 17th, 2021, Dubose observed the victim misbehaving.

She states that to punish him, Godleski forced his son into the laundry room, where he remained isolated from the rest of the family.

That same day, she says she witnessed Godleski enter the laundry room, where she heard him yelling at him and what she believed were the sounds of him beating the child severely, before he left the laundry room, again leaving the child inside alone. 

Dubose said that around the 20th, Godleski informed her that he was driving her and their other children to Connecticut so they could get a break from Noah.

They left the home and made the drive to the home of her family. Godleski returned to Florida. Dubose said that a friend, Michael Maloney, was supposed to come to the home to “babysit” Noah until Godleski returned from Connecticut. 

Police interviewed Maloney, who stated that he was never instructed to babysit and had no intentions of ever going to the home. 

Police found multiple inconsistencies in Dubose’s statement.

They have now issued an arrest warrant for her and expect to have her in physical custody at some point on Thursday, the 28th. Police believe that not only was she party to the abuse at some point,  but she coached her other children to say to authorities. 

The three other children, ages 9, 3, and a toddler under 2, have been removed from her custody and have been placed in the care of Child Protective Services in Connecticut. 

The affidavit also showed that Godleski made a phone call to a family member that was being monitored by law enforcement. On the call call, police say he made admissions surrounding the punishment he enacted and to leaving him deceased inside the family home.  

He told his mother that he had hit his son too hard, but had no intention of killing him. He thought about taking him to a hospital, but decided to wait until the next day to see if he was still unable to walk. 

The detective who filed the report, then writes:

“The defendant (Godleski) and Dubose rehearsed the story they would tell law enforcement to give the appearance of Dubose’s innocence. The defendant stated that he was taking the blame to where Dubose could take the remaining children. The defendant indicated that Dubose would for him until his release from jail.” 

The affidavit also detailed that Godleski made suicidal statements to his mother during a phone call. He was then placed under involuntary evaluation under the Baker Act, which addresses mental health care for individuals who cannot determine their own need for treatment. 

We were also able to obtain the minutes from Godleski’s initial court appearance.

While he was instructed to have no contact with witnesses or his other children, he was also denied bond on the aggravated manslaughter of a child charge, which is a first-degree felony. He was allowed $500 bond for the first-degree misdemeanor charge of failure to report a death. 

Police investigating second death of a minor in less than a month, and a state protective agency may have been able to prevent it
Screen shot from public records search

The court found that Godleski was indigent, and as such, assigned a Public Defender to provide continuous representation for him. 

He is scheduled to appear for arraignment on November 30th. 

Law Enforcement Today will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

**UPDATE:** Since we published this story on Thursday, law enforcement in Connecticut took Samarial Dubose into custody on Friday, October 29th, on what would have been Noah Godleski’s thirteenth birthday. Police in Palm Bay are working on the extradition process to get her back to Florida. She is currently facing the same charges as Godleski, but authorities say that further investigations could lead to additional and more severe charges against both.

As we referenced, there were allegations that Godleski and Dubose abused Noah as far back as 2013, when he was four. 

The Palm Bay police chief stated that there were allegations of abuse in 2020, filed by one of Noah’s teachers. Those allegations were investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and focused on both Godleski and Dubose. That case was closed as unfounded.

Law Enforcement Today has learned that the DCF is required by law to do several things when they initiate an investigation of alleged abuse. One of those things is, in accordance with Title V, Chapter 39, Section 301, Part 2(a):

“The department (DCF) shall immediately forward allegations of criminal conduct to the municipal or county law enforcement agency of the municipality or county in which the alleged conduct has occurred. notification provided to local law enforcement.” 

Criminal conduct is, as defined by these statutes, a child is known or suspected to be the victim of child abuse.

According to Chief Moya, his department was never notified about the allegations, the child protective investigation, or their findings. 

Is it possible that DCF broke state laws in their handling of this case, and if they had notified Palm Bay police, officers there may have found evidence to substantiate the claim? And if that had happened, is it also possible that Noah would have been removed from that situation, and could still be alive today? 

The young man’s biological mother, Melinda Powell, spoke to local reporters, saying in part: 

“The police department came to my house at 3:40 in the morning on Saturday morning and told me an incident happened. I raised him for the first three years of his life. I didn’t get to see him, they let him rot in the laundry room for five days, so now I don’t even get to have an open casket.” 

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family offset the cost of the funeral. So far, they have raised slightly more than 10% of their goal.

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