Cops probe death of boy, 4, in Amityville

Neighbors of a 4 year-old Amityville boy who died Wednesday said they were shocked to learn of his death as they built a makeshift memorial outside his home. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Jan. 17, 2013)

A 4-year-old boy found alone and near death Wednesday in an Amityville home was the victim of a homicide, Suffolk police said Thursday.

Police identified the child as Adonis Reed and the medical examiner's office declared his death a homicide after its autopsy Thursday.

Police did not provide a cause of death or other details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Adonis was found unconscious on a couch in the living room of a house on Ketcham Avenue after a 911 caller said a boy needed medical attention, police said. He was pronounced dead about 6 p.m. at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

His death led county authorities Thursday to take custody of his 6-year-old sister from their mother.

In a brief Family Court appearance in Central Islip, the mother, Kiara Daniels, 21, of Wyandanch sobbed as she said "yes" when Judge David Freundlich asked her permission to turn her daughter over to the Department of Social Services.

Daniels declined to comment.

Police said the children did not live with their mother but rather with two other adults at the Amityville house.

Adonis' aunt and a renter at the Amityville house said the children were under the care of Lakisha Pitt, their godmother, and her companion, Jonathan Thompson. Investigators were trying Thursday to determine the whereabouts of the two just before the 911 call was made.

Thursday night outside the front stairs of the house, Adonis' aunt, Rosemary Shorter, 33, of Amityville, lit a candle where neighbors had built a makeshift memorial.

"He was loved by everyone," Shorter said.

Shorter said Daniels let Pitt, one of her best friends, take care of the children a year ago, after Daniels lost her apartment and had to live in a women's shelter.

"She's a good mom, but she ran into a lot of issues," Shorter said of Daniels. The children's father has been in prison, she said.

Thursday afternoon, two Suffolk detectives along with a police dog and handler searched the home's backyard, as well as the yards of several adjoining houses, looking for evidence.

Police suspect the 911 call was made from the home. It was not clear who made the call, but investigators were trying to locate the male caller.

Tracy Penta, a Sandy victim who has been renting an adjoining apartment in the house, said she found the boy after officers asked if she could get them into the back apartment.

Penta said she called Pitt to ask about Adonis and was told, "He fell and he's hurt."

When Penta discovered the door between their apartments was unlocked, she found Adonis: "I saw him lying on the couch in his pajamas. He wasn't moving."

As neighbors mourned outside the pale yellow, two-story home, a child's shoe, bicycle and toys lay strewn about the backyard beside an above-ground pool. Inside a car parked by the house was a drawing by Adonis, who had put "policeman" above the heading "What I want to be when I grow up."

Adonis and his sister were regular youngsters, neighbors said.

"On weekends, they used to play all the time," neighbor Eric Erath said. "Every time I used to see them, they were very cheerful."

Neighbor John Flores said he casually knew the man and woman who cared for Adonis.

"They took him to school," he said. "They played with him. He was a happy kid. Him and his sister were like peas in a pod. They were always together."

Police said anyone with information can call 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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