Sheriff's deputies arrested a man on suspicion of beating his girlfriend's 2-year-old son to death, after authorities found the child's body on a public bus in California City, Calif. this week.
Mathew Berry, 26, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and assault on a child causing death, according to a Kern County Sheriff's Office statement. The child, identified as Pharaoh Vanvactor, was found on a Kern Regional Transit Bus in California City about 7:25 a.m. on Wednesday.
The child's mother, Adrianna Brown, said she let Berry, her boyfriend of five months, take her son for a trip.
"He was supposed to take him to go get ice cream, to get a pair of new shoes and to the hardware store," the Lancaster college student said, crying. "And he was supposed to bring him right back to me."
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Here is what the Kern County Sheriff's Office says happened after that: A bus driver was about 10 miles north of California City, a sprawling but sparsely populated desert city about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles. He was headed south toward city limits when he when he spotted Berry and a small child at the side of the road.
The driver stopped the bus and asked if they needed help or a ride into town. Berry brought the child onto the bus. He told the driver the boy wasn't breathing.
The driver called his dispatch to arrange for medical aid as he drove toward the city center.
California City police, firefighters and paramedics met the bus at the intersection of Nueralia Road and California City Boulevard. There, they pronounced the child dead.
An autopsy revealed the 2-year-old died of "blunt force trauma," and the cause of death was a homicide.
"What he did was despicable," said the child's grandmother, Carol Roberson. "A 2-year-old baby? He's defenseless. What can he do?"
Anyone with information about this case can call the Kern County Sheriff's Office at 661-322-4040.