A Cleveland, Alabama couple are behind bars, and the two other children that were living in their home are now in the custody of the Department of Human Resources after 18 month old Enzo Mccormack suffered "a severe battering and shaking injury" which ultimately resulted in his death at Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham.
Samantha McCormack, 24, obtained a protection from abuse order against Robert Elmore Jr., 28, in March of 2019 after her three children were removed from her care in October of 2018. Her children were then returned to her in June.
Friday evening, McCormack stopped for gas at Locust Fork Hardware. It is reported that she was waiting in line to pay when somehow, an employee there was made aware that she had a child in the car that was not doing well. The employee is said to have rush to the car and upon seeing the condition of the child, called 911.
McCormack told first responders that she was on her way to the hospital. She stated that earlier in the evening, she had been home with her three children who were eating, when she stepped out of the room to use the restroom. She said she heard something fall, and returned to the room to find Enzo on the floor, choking. She told them that she cleared his mouth and he seemed to be okay. Later though, she said she realized that he wasn't doing well and so, bathed him to see if that would help before ultimately making the decision to take him to the hospital. Before she could take him though, she stated that she had to wait for her grandmother to arrive from Oneonta to watch her other two children.
While awaiting transportation for Enzo, police stated in court documents that Elmore Jr., arrived at the hardware store with his parents and the other two children. He stated at the time that he had gotten a call from McCormack around 6 pm stating that Enzo was not well and she was taking him to the hospital.
The fact that he had McCormack's other two children, Enzo's twin sister and 3 year old brother, made police ask questions. Ultimately, Elmore Jr. was not able to provide basic information such as an address or phone number for McCormack's grandmother who had allegedly been in custody of the children.
At the time, Sargent Christopher Holloman with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office was instructed by Investigator Edward Hull to secure the home for investigation. Investigator Hull also placed a call to DHR to investigate the welfare of the other two children.
Sargent Holloman arrived at the address McCormack had initially given as the residence where Enzo had fallen to find out that she had not been there, nor did she reside there. They quickly determined that she was in fact living with Elmore Jr. and proceeded to secure that residence.
Upon being interviewed, Elmore Jr. told several different versions of events. When interviewed by authorities, he eventually admitted that he had a role in Enzo's injuries. Initially though, he stated that it was an accident when he had tried to pick the boy up from his pack 'n play with his forearms while holding a glass of tea in one hand and a remote control in the other. He stated Enzo had fallen and hit his head on the pack 'n play before hitting the floor. Upon seeing that the child was unresponsive, he picked him up and shook him to try and elicit a response.
Eventually though, another version of events came out. This one involved Elmore Jr. picking up Enzo, and Enzo allegedly grabbed his chest hairs. "He lost his temper," the investigator wrote. Emore Jr. said he dropped the child who hit his head on the pack 'n play and then hit the floor. Again, he picked the unresponsive child up and shook him to try and elicit a response.
In both accounts, he then texted McCormack who told him to wait until she got home. He admitted he did not call 911, nor did McCormack.
Investigator Hull followed Enzo down to the Children's Hospital in Birmingham and there spoke with the physician attending the boy. In court records, Hull stated that the physician disclosed that Enzo suffered from head trauma, closed head trauma, brain injury, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, multiple retinal hemorrhages and multiple contusions to the head and body. He stated that Enzo is the “victim of a severe battering and shaking injury. There has been no plausible accidental injury to explain his many injuries. so this is physical abuse. It would take an adult sized person to pick him up and cause these injuries. If the history is accurate, the only adults at home were mother and mother’s boyfriend. He would have been symptomatic immediately after sustaining the injuries and would not appear normal to anyone who was observing him. (The victim) is not expected to survive.”
McCormack and Elmore Jr. were initially arrested for first degree assault and first degree assault and attempted murder charges respectively. Once Elzo succumbed to his injuries, their charges were upgraded to reckless murder and capitol murder.
The other two children were checked out at the hospital. Enzo's twin sister checked out without injuries, but his older brother showed signs of bruising behind his ears and under his chin, and also had a skull fracture similar to Enzo's. He was released from the hospital on Monday, and both siblings are in the care of DHR.