UPDATE: Charisse Stinson admitted to hitting the child, causing seizures and resulting in his death, according to the arrest affidavit. [READ MORE]
LARGO — Jordan Belliveau, the 2-year-old toddler who went missing for more than two days, was found dead late Tuesday.
His 21-year-old mother, Charisse Stinson, now faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of her child.
"As you can imagine, this is an extremely difficult and emotional time for all of us," said a shaken Largo police Chief Jeffrey Undestad at a night news conference that night.
Largo police revealed no other details about the case, including the cause of Jordan’s death and what evidence or statements may implicate the mother, who struggled to care for her child amidst a chaotic relationship with the father.
So ended an intense search for Jordan that was launched when the mother first called 911 early Sunday. For more than 60 hours, police scoured nearby woods, divers searched ponds and investigators hauled away dumpsters around the mother’s apartment.
Police released a sketch of a man the mother claimed had offered her and Jordan a ride Saturday night, then struck her in the face. She told police the next thing she knew, she woke up in Largo Central Park and the child was missing. Police released a gas station surveillance video of a possible witness in the case.
UPDATE: THE AMBER Alert for Jordan Belliveau has been canceled. Sadly, the child has been found deceased.— FDLE (@fdlepio) September 4, 2018
The child’s body was found late Tuesday afternoon in the woods east of Lake Avenue NE and McMullen Road, behind a baseball field at the Largo Sports Complex.
That’s about 1½-miles from the park where the mother said she awoke in her original story to police.
• • •
The announcement of Jordan’s death shocked neighbor Kevin Roush, 41. He and his 14-year-old son, Dillon, live next door to Stinson and her child at the Enclave on East Apartments on East Bay Drive.
"He was a good little kid," Roush said. "Ain’t a whole lot you can do at two years old."
Dillon said he knew his neighbors well. The 2-year-old’s father, also named Jordon Belliveau, who Dillon said went by Jojo, would play-fight with his son. Stinson did more of the bathing and diaper-changing, Dillon said.
But about a month ago, Dillon said, the father moved out.
"Jojo and Charisse, they weren’t always a happy couple, but they were a functioning couple," the teen said.
About eight months ago, Dillon recalled, the baby was taken from them by child protective workers. But young Jordan came back about three months ago, Dillon said.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said late Tuesday that his agency’s child protection investigators had contact with the toddler, as did Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, which provides child welfare services in Pinellas and Pasco counties on behalf of the Department of Children and Families.
Dillon said he had not seen the toddler in weeks, but on Saturday afternoon, he saw Stinson taking out her trash. The next day, after Stinson reported her son missing, he saw police at their two-story apartment building.
• • •
Before police announced they had found the child, a crowd gathered near the woods cordoned off by police.
Helicopters circled overhead as word spread that Jordan’s body had been found, out of sight behind the yellow tape and trees.
"Jordan has been found in a wooded area behind me," Largo police Maj. Stephen Slaughter said from the scene, hours before the mother’s arrest was announced. "We have no further statement at this time."
The crowd grew restless, some started shouting and others started crying.
"That is a baby!" a woman screamed.
"Exactly bro," another person said.
"There is no excuse!"
A woman quieted the crowd and led those gathered on the sidewalk in a prayer.
"He’s with the angels now," someone said.
Jordan had been missing since early Sunday. The boy’s mother told Largo police that a man named "Antwan" offered to giver her and her child, Jordan, a ride near the area of East Bay Drive and Belcher Road, close to where she lived. That was at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, she said.
Then she told police the man, Antwan, struck her in the face while they drove near Lake Road.
When she regained consciousness early Sunday, she told police, she found herself alone in Largo Central Park and her son was missing.
She reported him missing to police shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Officials then sent out the AMBER Alert for the missing boy. In it, Jordan is described as 2 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 30 pounds with short brown hair and black eyes.
At the time of his disappearance he was wearing blue gym shorts, a blue shirt with the number 72 on the front, black socks and black and white Nike sneakers, the alert said.
Police spent the past two days searching the area for any signs of the missing child, released a composite sketch of the man the mother described, and released surveillance footage of a possible witness.
• • •
Out by the woods in the crowd was Fezjia Brown, who said she used to be a staff member at Family Resources, where the mother stayed years ago while in foster care.
Brown said when that particular home closed, she fought to get Stinson new housing.
"Charisse has a lot of hope," Brown remembers telling a director, noting that she was one of few girls there who attended school.
About a year ago, Brown said, she saw Stinson without her son, and the young mother told her: "Ms. Fezjia, I’m going to get him back." Brown said she wasn’t sure what happened, but she took it to mean Stinson had lost custody of her child.
Since Jordan’s disappearance, a man on Facebook named Joe Cartel has posted repeatedly, begging for the return of his son.
"Its been days an i aint heard my son voice im finna lose it," Cartel wrote.
Roush said Facebook account actually belonged to the missing child’s 22-year-old father, Jordan Belliveau.
After police announced they found Jordan’s body, dozens of people offered their condolences on the Facebook page.
• • •
Hours before his son was found, the father spoke to the Tampa Bay Times from his Clearwater porch about his missing child and his volatile relationship with the mother.
Court records spelled out the difficulties facing the child’s parents.
On Aug. 21, a lawyer filed an eviction complaint against Stinson, alleging she was past due on rent at the Enclave on East Apartments. The mother owed more than $2,000, the complaint said. Her rent was $850 a month.
On July 14, according to a police report, officers arrested the father, who Stinson accused of punching her when he tried to drop off their child. Stinson said she told Jordan Belliveau she did not want the boy back yet, according to the report. A police officer wrote that Stinson’s lip was cut and swollen. Belliveau is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 24.
That was not the first allegation of violence between the parents. The father said Jordan was born on July 29, 2016. He would have been about 5 months old when officers arrested Belliveau on domestic battery and aggravated assault charges in January 2017. Stinson accused him of choking her and holding a gun to her head. An officer wrote that she had bruises and red marks around her throat. She later asked that charges not be filed.
Then in April 2017, Stinson was arrested and accused of domestic battery against Belliveau, according to another arrest report. The two argued over text messages he had sent to past girlfriends, a deputy wrote, and Stinson admitted she pushed Belliveau in the chest. The next day, Belliveau asked that charges not be filed and that he be allowed to contact her again, according to court records.
The couple never married. Belliveau denied that he ever hit Stinson.
They argued over custody of Jordan, who they call "Junior," the father said, but the boy was never involved or injured in those incidents.
"That ain’t got nothing to do with it," Belliveau said.
• • •
The father said he was staying at a hotel this weekend, celebrating his 22nd birthday when his mother called early Sunday morning to tell him the police had come to the house to inquire about his missing child.
Belliveau said he was confused and high, so he went back to sleep. The next day, he said, he started driving around searching for his son and texting Stinson.
The father said he pressed his ex-girlfriend for information. He shared text messages with the Times, which he said are between him and Stinson.
"Just tell me where he is," Belliveau wrote in one message.
The response, which he says is from Stinson, came a minute later: "I do not know if I knew where my baby was we would not be going through this."
In others, the two grow increasingly frustrated with each other.
"I kno u kno where he is," Belliveau wrote.
And: "Can u please tell me man"
The response: "Jojo all I remember is getting a ride and waking up in the ambulance
f------ up im trying my best to tell them everything I know"
The texter, who Belliveau identified as Stinson, also wrote, "I’m blaming myself for this s---" and adds that the child "needed to eat."
"I’m sorry that this is happening to us and you have every right to question me and be angry but we have to stay positive and pray because he’s gonna come I’m doing my best to remember everything."
• • •
This is the second allegation of filicide made against a mother in the Tampa Bay region in recent weeks.
On Aug. 2, Shakayla Denson waded into the Hillsborough River north of downtown Tampa and let her 4-year-old daughter Je’Hyrah Daniels float away, according to Tampa police.
The child drowned. The mother in that case also faces a charge of first-degree murder.
Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Zachary T. Sampson at email@example.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ByJoshSolomon. Contact Kathryn Varn at email@example.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.