A former Orangeburg resident now stationed at Wheeler Army Airfield in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been arrested and charged with murder in the beating death of his 5-year-old daughter, a Honolulu newspaper reported Tuesday.
The incident ended a string of abuse that, according to court documents, allegedly has been going on for months.
The father of Talia Emoni Williams, who was identified in court papers as Naeem Williams, an Army soldier, and her stepmother, 21-year-old Delilah S. Williams, were taken into custody, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. The Army would not identify Naeem Williams Monday, the paper reported, and would only confirm that a suspect was in custody.
The victim's birth mother, Tarshia Williams, lives in Orangeburg.
Delilah Williams was charged with murder in federal court after, according to the FBI, she admitted to delaying calling for help after Talia was beaten, the paper said.
The child was later pronounced dead at Wahiawa General Hospital.
Because the father is a soldier and the stepmother is a civilian, their cases are being pursued separately by military authorities and the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Advertiser reported.
The criminal complaint, which was filed by FBI Special Agent Ty Justin Cook in U.S. District Court, draws from interviews with both of the defendants conducted by agents with the Army Criminal Investigative Division.
On Saturday, Naeem Williams "spanked" Talia with his belt because she wet herself, according to the affidavit, which did not state the time the incident began.
Later that afternoon, Williams went back to check on his daughter and found that she had wet herself again. He yelled at Talia and ordered her into the shower, the affidavit stated. As Talia walked to the shower, Williams hit her in the hallway, the affidavit said. The girl fell from the blow and hit her head on the floor. It is not clear from the affidavit when the girl lost consciousness, but the document states that Williams picked Talia up, put her in the bathtub and started pouring water on her, but that she did not regain consciousness.
Williams then took Talia out of the tub, carried her to her room and placed her on the floor, the affidavit stated. Talia's room had no mattress, blankets or furniture because her parents had removed them as a form of punishment, according to the document.
Delilah Williams then told Naeem Williams to leave the girl alone, hoping the girl would wake up. Fifteen minutes later they heard the girl wheezing, the report stated.
Delilah Williams, who told Army investigators she once worked in an emergency room, checked Talia's pulse and didn't feel anything, the affidavit said.
Williams also told Army investigators she noticed a discharge from Talia's mouth, which from her previous work in an emergency room led her to believe the girl was dead, the affidavit said.
After telling her husband that his daughter was dead, she told him not to call an ambulance until she could get her 4-month-old daughter out of the house because she knew the couple was "in trouble" and she didn't want the police to take her daughter away. After handing the 4-month-old over to a cousin from 'Ewa Beach, the couple called 911 at 5:45 p.m. The cousin is not named in the affidavit.
EMS workers responded and found Talia Williams suffering from cardiac arrest.
They were able to momentarily revive her, but she again became unresponsive with no pulse. Also, Talia was vomiting, possibly as a result of a head injury, the affidavit stated. She was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. EMS personnel also discovered bruises on the girl's arms, chest, knees and thighs as well as a small cut on her back.
Army agents said blood spatters were found throughout the Williamses' apartment.
Delilah Williams told investigators the blood spatters were caused by her husband whipping Talia's back with his belt and "busting open" scars, according to the document. She also told the Army agents she had problems with Talia because the child was "a special-ed child," and that she hit Talia on the back of her legs with a belt.
She told the agents she stopped hitting Talia in late March or early April because the girl started to retaliate by grabbing the belt and digging her nails into Delilah Williams' arm. At that point, Delilah Williams "let Talia's father, Naeem Williams, deal with her," the affidavit said.
Naeem Williams told agents he hit Talia almost every day, and that during the week, Talia was left in the house by herself without any supervision.
In an initial federal court appearance Monday, U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang set a July 21 detention hearing for Delilah Williams.
Glover's Funeral Home of Orangeburg is handling funeral arrangements.
— Staff Writer Wendy Jeffcoat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 803-534-1060.