Child died as result of drowning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 7, 2004

WINDSOR – An autopsy performed over the weekend revealed that a three-year-old, discovered Thursday night in a septic tank near Hexlena, died as a result of drowning. How the child managed to wind up in the septic tank is the question that Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins wants an answer.

&uot;It’s been a tough investigation,&uot; said the Sheriff. &uot;What we know now is that the child died as a result of drowning. We’re still looking for answers on how the child wound up in the septic tank.&uot;

On Thursday night, a call was placed to the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office from a babysitter who reported that the child she was keeping was missing in the area of Saunders Trailer Park. That call was placed at approximately 8:30 p.m. Law enforcement officers arrived 15 minutes later at which time a massive search began for the missing child.

The child, Malik McKinley Beverly, is the son of LaToya Harrell who resides on the Early Station Road.

Shortly past 9 p.m., the search team discovered a septic tank, covered with a piece of plywood. Authorities removed the top, finding the baby floating about four to five feet below.

Atkins summoned the SBI to &uot;secure the area.&uot; He and his detectives began an immediate investigation.

&uot;We have learned through the investigation that the babysitter realized the child was missing approximately 15 minutes after last seeing the child,&uot; stated Sheriff Atkins. &uot;The babysitter informed us that upon realizing the child was missing, she went out to search for the child, with the help of some others there in the trailer park. About 45 minutes after she began to search, she called the Sheriff’s Office.&uot;

Atkins said he and his investigators are not ruling out foul play at this time.

&uot;We’re not treating this as a crime at this present time, but there are still a lot of questions that are in need of answers,&uot; he noted.

The Sheriff went on to say that most of the interviews concerning what occurred at the scene have been with other children at the trailer park.

&uot;We trying to piece together exactly what took place earlier that evening and who may have seen what,&uot; said the Sheriff.

Atkins would not speculate about anything at the scene, however, he did say there were several options that could have taken place, including someone replacing the plywood (over the opening to the septic tank) without realizing the child had fallen in the hole.