TAMPA — When his girlfriend's toddler died last month, Robert Bradwell told investigators that the child had fallen in the bathtub.
Monday, they disputed his account.
Bradwell, 36, was charged with first-degree murder after a medical examiner found that 2-year-old Makaila Thompson died as a result of "blunt impact." The Sheriff's Office did not reveal the nature of her injuries.
Bradwell, who has been arrested 20 times in Florida, had been entrusted with the care of Makaila and her 4-year-old brother while their mother worked on the night of Sept. 5, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.
Bradwell and the mother, Monique A. Thompson, 24, had lived together for about a year in Apt. B at 14204 N 20th St., a one-story duplex about 50 yards from a district substation of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
About 9:30 p.m., something happened to Makaila, and Bradwell took her to University Community Hospital, where she died. The boyfriend told detectives at the hospital that the child had fallen in the tub. But her injuries suggested foul play, the Sheriff's Office said.
Bradwell's state criminal record lists his occupation as truck driver. He told jail officials Monday that he works for Hedge Hunters, a landscape company. On one arrest record, he said he worked as a cook at Wendy's. Another time, he said he was unemployed.
His adult arrest record began with a June 1990 motor vehicle theft and, until this week, ended with a domestic violence arrest in July 2008. Along the way there were charges of carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest, burglary, marijuana possession, domestic violence battery, cocaine possession and larceny.
On Monday, he was booked on a charge of first-degree murder of a child and held without bail.
The shades were drawn Monday night at the apartment where Bradwell and his girlfriend lived. No one answered the door. Upholstered chairs sat out in the rain.
Neighbor Daryl Grant, who lives in Apt. A next door, said he moved in recently and didn't know the couple well but called Bradwell a "real cool dude."
"He goes to work, cooks, cleans, and he sits out here doing what he's got to do," Grant said.
News researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3368.