Saturday, February 7, 2004

Mother held in death of son, 6

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Miami Township officer Savalas Kidd looks at the car where Brandon Lehn, 6, was found not breathing Friday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
MIAMI TWP. - In circumstances that police describe as "suspicious," a 6-year-old boy died Friday - despite desperate attempts by bystanders and paramedics to revive him.

Brandon Lehn, lying in the back seat of his mother's car, was not breathing when police and an ambulance arrived about 9 a.m. Friday at the apartment complex where they lived, Miami Township Police Chief Steven Bailey said.

The boy was taken to Bethesda North Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:45 a.m.

Police took the boy's mother, Christina Miracle, into custody for questioning and filed endangering charges against her because of unsanitary conditions in the apartment, Bailey said. She is being held at the Clermont County Jail.

"While no one has been charged as a suspect in the death of this child," Bailey said, "no one has been completely ruled out as a suspect either. We're not yet certain if this death is the result of criminal behavior."

The initial examination of the boy's body by the Hamilton County Coroner's Office revealed no definitive cause of death, Bailey said. Results from laboratory and toxicology tests have not come in yet, he said.

Police filed the charges against Miracle after obtaining a warrant to inspect her apartment.

Miracle's best friend, April Metcalfe of Goshen Township, said Miracle has been a devoted mother to Brandon.

"She would never hurt him," Metcalfe said, in tears. "She didn't even believe in spanking her kid or anything. She was always there for him."

Neighbors said Miracle, 25, was distraught and screamed in the parking lot of the Pebble Brooke Apartments on Ohio 28 before and after police and paramedics arrived.

Amanda Viox, who lives in a nearby apartment building, said she saw Miracle carry Brandon out of their apartment building and lay him down on the parking lot pavement. She placed a pillow under his head and covered him with a blanket or a towel, Viox said. The boy was dressed only in boxer shorts and socks, she said.

"He was limp," Viox said. "He looked dead. She was screaming, 'Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus.' She was yelling all kinds of things."

After carrying Brandon back into their apartment building, Miracle brought him outside again and laid him in the back seat of her car.

A woman who was waiting in the parking lot for a ride to work and a male bystander administered CPR to the boy before the Miami Township Life Squad arrived, Bailey said.

Miracle had moved from Goshen Township to the Pebble Brooke Apartments three weeks ago. She is working on a high school equivalency degree and is engaged to be married to a man who is not Brandon's father.

Metcalfe described Brandon as "a good kid" who liked to tease and make people laugh.

Viox began crying as she talked about the boy. "He was small and thin," she said. "He was a happy little boy."

Miami Township police ask that anyone with information about Brandon Lehn's death call 248-3721 or 732-2231.


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