WARNING: Viewer discretion is advised due to the graphic nature of the story.
PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Bond has been set at $1 million each for the Peoria parents accused of murdering their 8-year-old son.
Stephanie Jones, 35, and Brandon Walker, 40, appeared in court Thursday as grim details emerged on the death of their son, Navin Jones. The pair are being charged with first-degree murder and face up to a natural life sentence.
They were arrested Wednesday after Peoria County Coroner revealed Navin died of physical abuse due to neglect.
Prosecutors revealed police were initially dispatched to the Jones home on reports of an unresponsive child. Before they arrived, Stephanie found him unresponsive and put him in the shower to warm him up.
As first responders arrived at the home, they found Stephanie performing life-saving measures as she was instructed to do so over the phone. They removed Navin from the bathroom as soon as they arrived.
Navin’s body was severely emaciated and showed clear signs of abuse, such as sunken eye sockets, visible bones, and ligature marks. He was exceedingly malnourished, and at the time of his death, Navin weighed just 30 pounds, according to prosecutors.
Officers also found ropes attached to both the boy’s closet and bedroom door. They said his room also reeked of urine and feces.
When asked why ropes were attached to the doors, Stephanie and Walker said they were there to keep Navin from getting out and breaking things in the house. They specified the ropes on the closet door were to keep the boy from getting into the closet.
Navin’s grandmother was the previous legal guardian, according to court records. She had returned Navin back to his parents at the end of summer 2021, and Navin was living with his parents again by fall 2021.
Prosecutors also asked why Stephanie and Walker did not take Navin to an emergency room when it was clear he was malnourished. The pair responded, saying they did not have legal guardianship status, and they could not seek medical attention for Navin.
Walker specifically blamed DCFS, saying every time he and Stephanie would try to take Navin to the emergency room, the organization would get involved. He also blamed the organization for not giving them papers to become Navin’s legal guardians.
Thursday, a spokesperson for DCFS confirmed there had been prior contact with Navin Jones’ family. What the extent of those visits were is not known at this time.
The last time anyone observed Navin in a healthy manner was between late October and early November 2021, prosecutors alleged.
Navin’s parents claimed after leaving the custody of his grandmother, Navin had behavioral issues. They said he had a habit of drinking urine and throwing feces.
Stephanie and Walker are due back in court for an arraignment hearing on April 28 at 1:30 p.m.