Local News

Father of slain Fayetteville child didn't suspect abuse

Posted April 5, 2011

— The father of a 1-year-old Fayetteville child who died after being severely beaten in July 2010 said he never suspected his sons were abused by their mother, who now faces murder charges in the boy's death.

Malissa Yates, 24, of 6089 Lunar Drive, was charged Monday afternoon with first-degree murder and felony child abuse.

She lived with her boyfriend and two sons – William, 1, and James, 4. She called 911 on July 31 to report that William wasn't breathing. 

When Cumberland County sheriff's deputies arrived at the apartment, there were "no obvious signs of trauma at all," a sheriff's office spokeswoman said. 

"Nobody knew why he had passed away, what was the cause of death," said James McIntyre, the father of both boys. "It was frustrating. I mean, not knowing what's going on, what happened."

A few months after William's death, Yates was arrested for misdemeanor child abuse against James. According to court documents, Yates denied hitting the child with anything other than her hand, but when she was shown photos of marks on his skin, she admitted to striking the boy with a belt three times.

"Malissa Yates stated that she got her belt and swung it at the victim while he ran around the room wildly. (She) advised that she had struck the victim three times with the belt without his shirt on," court documents state.

james mcintyre Father of slain Fayetteville child didn't suspect abuse

Investigators said that alleged abuse happened before William's death, and that they noticed some bruising on James when they responded to the apartment in July.

"I don't know why anybody would want to hurt a baby like that," McIntyre said. 

When investigators received the final autopsy report from the State Medical Examiner's Office in February, they began investigating the case as a homicide. The autopsy states that William died of blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen.

According to the medical examiner, William suffered brain hemorrhaging, a fractured clavicle and rib and lacerations to his liver and pancreas as a result of the beating. The injuries indicated that the child had been abused on at least two occasions before his death, the autopsy states.

James now lives with McIntyre.

The Department of Social Services declined to comment on any custody matters involving James. It wasn't clear when he was removed from the home.

Yates made her first court appearance Tuesday and is being held without bond in the Cumberland County Detention Center.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • grandmagail Apr 6, 2011

    My understanding of the story was that James was the one beaten with the belt, not William.

  • Wake1 Apr 6, 2011

    Wow! Both kids had the same father! Guess the new boyfriend would have given her one or two more for the taxpayers to support!!

  • Karmageddon Apr 6, 2011

    Ok....so the father had no responsibility at all....interesting point of view.

  • Kimbby Apr 6, 2011

    I don't have any children myself, but have been around quite a few, and I don't recall ever seeing a 1 year old child running around wildly. They can barely walk at that age. I don't even understand why she would think it would be okay to use ANYTHING to hit that baby. Her hand would of done the job if he was really being "wild". I stand by my idea that their should be tests before being allowed to have children. Bet we'd hear a lot less of stories like this.

  • windydayze Apr 6, 2011

    Wow...I think some folks need to work on reading comprehension! While I will agree that DSS is a system that needs some serious work, there is nothing that states there was involvement by DSS (or any other agency). Investigators in this case are criminal investigators and the ME can tell that some of the injuries the child suffered occured prior to death by the various stages of healing that they (the injuries) were in at the time of death.

    As far as the father sticking around or not, the article does not give us any details on his level of involvement with the children but you are fooling yourselves if you think that the abuse would not have occured had there been with more involvement on his part. Abusers lie and a child that young does not have the ability to stand up and say they are being hurt.

    Place the blame where it belongs..on the abusive mother.

  • princessnise Apr 6, 2011

    How can you blame the father? He didn't live with them! The boyfriend did though and no one seems to think he has any responsiblity in this. The woman is evil. Stop looking to blame the father, social services, etc. Responsiblity lies with those who cared for those two boys.

  • just my2cents Apr 6, 2011

    Investigators does not only mean it could have been DSS. It could have been a member of teh police force. HOWEVER, DSS has to go by what a judges ruling is. Social workers just make recommendations, it takes a court order to uphold them.

  • ctechic2004 Apr 6, 2011

    imtoofastforyou2-No where in this story does it say that Social Services had any involvement with this family as far as abuse goes, so you can't blame them. The only person that is to blame is the mother.

  • Karmageddon Apr 6, 2011

    Maybe if the Dad had stuck around that wouldn't have happened

  • pwpoe Apr 6, 2011

    Where was the father all this time?