LARGO — On Friday, a caseworker visited the apartment Jordan Belliveau shared with his mother, police said.
On Sunday, phone screens lit up with an Amber Alert that the 2-year-old boy was missing, sparking an intensive search by police.
On Tuesday, authorities found his body in a wooded area tucked behind the Largo Sports Complex. Largo police detectives arrested his mother, 21-year-old Charisse Stinson, in the child’s death.
The case has rattled the community, devastated family members and made some question how a child on the radar of multiple child welfare agencies could have fallen so far through the cracks.
"Jordan was failed by the system," his former foster parents said in a statement. "He was failed by many people who should have protected him but didn’t."
Stinson initially told authorities that a man had offered her and Jordan a ride Saturday night while they were walking near Belcher Road and East Bay Drive. The man, identified as "Antwan," knocked her unconscious, she said. She woke up in Largo Central Park without Jordan.
Police Lt. Randall Chaney said Wednesday that detectives believe that was all a lie.
"During her interview, she would constantly change what she was saying based on the line of questioning," Chaney said, characterizing the young mother as "deceptive." "There was no feeling with them that there was any remorse, only her attempting to escape the reality of the story by making things up as she went."
According to an arrest report, Stinson told police during questioning that she struck 2-year-old Jordan Belliveau in the face "during a moment of frustration" after the child suffered an "unexplained, serious injury" to his right leg.
She told police she hit the child in the face with the back of her hand early Sunday, causing his head to strike a wall in her home.
The blow caused him to have seizures, according to the report.
As his condition worsened, according to the report, Stinson took Jordan to a wooded area during the night and left him there. Injuries found on the child’s body are consistent with what she said, according to the report.
Detectives received information from a third party about the location of Belliveau’s body, Chaney said. Authorities found him in the woods east of Lake Avenue NE and McMullen Road behind a baseball field at the Largo Sports Complex. It’s unknown whether Jordan was dead or alive when he was dropped in the woods.
Detectives arrested Stinson on Tuesday on first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges. While detectives believe she acted alone, they are still looking for a passerby who may have encountered her Saturday night near the 7-Eleven at 1200 E Bay Drive.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley ordered Stinson held without bail on the murder charge and $500,000 for the child abuse charge at Stinson’s first appearance Wednesday. She also appointed a public defender for Stinson, who said she could not afford a lawyer.
As the case worked its way through the court system, more details emerged on Jordan’s short life.
Family members and police confirmed Jordan had recently reunited with his mother after a stay in foster care.
His former foster parents, Sam and Juliet Warren, said in a statement the child had lived with them from January 2017 until he was returned to Stinson on May 31. The Florida Department of Children and Families said in a statement Wednesday that it would conduct a special review of prior contact with the child.
Family members and friends of the child’s father, who is also named Jordan, had biting words for the child’s mother, speaking to reporters after the court hearing.
"Why should she be given a chance? My grandson was not given a chance," said his grandmother, Jessica Belliveau. The "death penalty’s too easy. I want her to live her life out knowing what she did to my grandson."
They also expressed frustration at what they said was a failure of the child welfare system.
"Where was the caseworker?" said the child’s great aunt, Nakishia Pressley. "Where were you? Why didn’t you check up on this baby?"
The caseworker who visited Jordan and his mother’s Largo apartment on Friday was from Directions for Living, according to police. The Clearwater agency is a subcontractor of Eckerd Connects, which contracts with DCF to run foster care in Pinellas and Pasco counties.
Directions released this statement from president and CEO April Lott:
"We are devastated to learn the tragic details of this case as they have unfolded. We grieve alongside Jordan’s family and our community as we process this heartbreaking information."
Lott said her organization is working with investigators in the case but would not release any other information.
DCF and Eckerd representatives said their agencies had prior contact with the family but did not release further details Wednesday. So did the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, which conducts child welfare investigations.
Jessica Belliveau added that welfare workers were planning to conduct a study of her home Wednesday to consider whether Jordan could live with her. Stinson was unemployed and being evicted from her apartment, she said.
"He’s got a whole family," Pressley said. "All of us would have pitched in."
Records show Jordan’s parents had a tumultuous relationship with allegations of domestic violence flying between them. Jessica Belliveau and Pressley said they believe Stinson killed the child out of revenge. The elder Jordan had broken up with Stinson in July, they said.
"She told him she was going to make him hurt like he made her hurt," said another great aunt, Sheryl Pressley.
Adding to the complication is that Stinson is pregnant, Jessica Belliveau said. The grandmother said she’s planning to take that child.
"She will not hurt another baby again, and I put that on Jesus," she said.
On Wednesday, photos from Jordan’s former foster parents circulated online. The child smiled in almost all of them, beneath a head of curly brown hair, wearing a onesie that said "Flexin’ Friday" in one, holding an American flag in another, reaching toward the camera on the hip of his foster mom in a third.
"Jordan was filled with joy," the Warrens said. "Most folks knew the Jordan that was laid back with an easy smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was our ‘Mr. Chuckles.’"
When asked what the loss meant for his family, Jessica Belliveau answered quickly.
Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Times staff writer Christopher O’Donnell contributed to this report.