LARGO — Two-year-old Jordan Belliveau appeared to die a violent death.
The toddler had bleeding beneath his scalp, a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage, according to a report released Monday by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s office. The child also suffered deep cuts and a leg fracture, the report said, and had a healing wound on his chin.
The cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma. The medical examiner also detailed how the toddler was found on Sept. 4: His body was in a state of decomposition, in 5 to 6 inches of water and partially covered with brush. He was wearing a blue shirt, blue shorts, white socks and a diaper. The child had just one shoe on.
The autopsy is the most detailed depiction yet of how Jordan died in a disturbing case that rattled the community and triggered intense scrutiny of Florida's child welfare system. Last month, the Florida Department of Children and Families released a review that pointed to a broken system of care in Pinellas County as a factor in the child’s death, although some officials pushed back on that conclusion.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Foster care failures uncovered in death of 2-year-old Jordan Belliveau
His mother, 21-year-old Charisse Stinson, faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of her son. She had recently been reunified with Jordan after he had spent more than a year in foster care.
Stinson first reported the boy missing on Sept. 2. She told Largo police that she had accepted a ride from a stranger, who knocked her unconscious. She said she woke up in Largo Central Park with no Jordan.
The boy's disappearance set off an Amber Alert and a 60-hour search through the woods, ponds and trash bins of Largo. Authorities found him Sept. 4 in a wooded area near the Largo Sports Complex.
As detectives poked holes in Stinson's story, another narrative emerged. Officers found blood in her apartment, which she explained by saying he had fallen and hurt his chin more than a week ago, according to the medical examiner's report.
Then, investigators found surveillance video from a home in Largo that showed Stinson walking down a sidewalk the night of Sept. 1, carrying a limp Jordan. About 20 minutes later, another video showed her walking without him.
Finally, on Sept. 4, a friend of Stinson told police she had driven Stinson to a dumpster on the north side of the sports complex. That tip led officers to Jordan's body.
Stinson eventually admitted that on Aug. 31 she struck Jordan in a moment of frustration, police said. She said the boy fell from his bed and hurt his right leg, according to the medical examiner. He wouldn't stop crying, so Stinson said she hit him in the face. His head hit a wall, she told police, and he lapsed into seizures.
The next day, the mother said she took him to the woods and left her son there. Authorities have not said whether Jordan was alive when he was left in the woods.
Aside from the murder charge, Stinson also faces a charge of reporting false information to law enforcement. She is being held without bail in the Pinellas County jail.
Meanwhile, the court case against the mother continues to move forward. She appeared in court Monday morning for a short pretrial hearing. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael Andrews asked Stinson if she understood that she was allowed to seek a plea deal. Stinson told the judge she understood. Another hearing is scheduled for March.
On Friday, Jordan's former foster parents, Sam and Juliet Warren, said they had taken in Jordan's newborn sister, Serenity Marie Stinson, whom Stinson birthed Dec. 22 while in custody. The couple is working to adopt her. The father of both children, Jordan Belliveau Sr., is also seeking custody, according to court filings.
Last week marked the second time the Warrens had spoken out about the case. The first was in the days after Jordan's death, in an emotional statement that criticized a judge's decision in May to reunite Jordan with his birth mother, despite concerns about Stinson's progress in her parenting plan.
“We hope that Jordan’s loss will lead to the change that is needed to protect other endangered children in the system,” the couple said in September. “Jordan was failed by the system. He was failed by many people who should have protected him but didn’t.”
Times staff writer Josh Solomon contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.