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3-Year-Old Child Abuse Victim Buried In Edgecombe County

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EDGECOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — Friends and family gathered Wednesday to say goodbye to a 3-year-old whose life ended before it really began.

Authorities say Jaheim Cooper died last week as a result of child abuse. The boy's mother, Lawanda Cooper, and her boyfriend, Osborne Bennett, are charged with killing him, in what investigators describe as a horrific child abuse case.

"It really doesn't compare to any (case) we have ever seen before -- that badly bruised like that child was," said Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight.

Authorities said Cooper called 911 from her home to say her son was not breathing and that Bennett was performing CPR.

Doctors and nurses at Nash General Hospital called deputies to report signs of abuse.

Investigators say the child weighed only 18 pounds, had many bruises, and according to arrest warrants, had severe burns on his lower torso, feet and elbow.

Cooper also told investigators Bennett put the toddler in a tub of hot water as punishment. The state medical examiner said severe pain from the untreated burn killed the child nearly two weeks later.

Cooper and Bennett remain in the Edgecombe County jail under no bond. They are scheduled to appear in court in early August.

The toddler's death is taking a toll on investigators and emergency workers who tried to help save his life. They gathered Wednesday evening for a special crisis intervention meeting to help each other cope with the child's death.

Jan Brown is one of the emergency room nurses who tried to save Jaheim.

"At the end of the day, you cry and you go home and you kiss your own kids and you hug them and you love them a little bit harder," Brown said. "Anytime you see an injury that is inflicted upon a child, you remember that injury and that child's face."


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