John Taylor Baxley
November 2, 2006 - August 10, 2010
John was born on November 2, 2006 to Crystal Baxley and Justin Garwacki. John was called "J.T." by many who knew him. In February of 2007, Crystal filed for divorce and moved back home in Missouri. Justin remained in Florida where he lived with Crystal's former friend, Kara O'Connell. Kara gave birth to Justin's daughter, John's half-sister, around the same time that John was born. In response to the divorce papers, Justin denied that he was John's father and managed to draw out the divorce until March of 2009 when the divorce was granted.
Justin continued to deny that John was his child. Eventually a DNA test proved that John was his biological child. Crystal had to complete multiple online parenting courses and meet certain qualifications so she could have custody of John and receive child support. Crystal did this and it was agreed that Justin would give her a monthly $259 to help raise John. Justin did not willingly give child support and Crystal was forced to go to court to make him.
Justin believed that Crystal was using the money for herself, rather than for John, and Kara often complained that they did not spend enough money on the daughter they had together. Justin and Kara were also given visitation with John. They were not happy about paying child support or taking care of the little boy.
On June 28, 2010, John was preparing to go visit with his father for the summer. It was reported that Kara would not allow John to play with his half-sister. Justin also regarded John as an extension of Crystal, whom he was angry with. Justin took out the anger he felt toward Crystal on their son. On June 28, 2010, Justin picked up John from Crystal's home. Crystal had packed him clothes and toys for her visit. She told him that she would miss him while he was gone and she would see him soon. She never saw him alive again.
As soon as John arrived in his father's home, he was physically abused. Justin later told investigators that about a week before John's death, he had put John in the bathtub and poured water over his head to teach him how to hold his breath. When John didn't hold his breath the way Justin wanted him to, Justin would hit his head. This caused John to fall face-first and smash his head into the bathtub. Justin filled a sock with rice, heated it, and put the sock on John's forehead. This burnt his head.
Kara also told investigators of the abuse that John had endured. She admitted that she had hit John numerous times hard enough to bruise him. She also said she had picked him up by his throat before when he would not listen to her. John became so fearful of Justin and Kara that he began to lose control of his bladder and his bowels. He had been picked up, dropped, hit, bitten, and burnt. He was never given medical treatment for his injuries, even when his arm was broken and he had open wounds.
On the day John died, his father had hit him multiple times with a cupped hand on his head, face, stomach, genitals, and legs. Justin said he did this because John would not eat. When Justin grew more frustrated with his young son, he pulled the chair out from under him, causing John to fall to the ground. Later in the day, John ate a nutri-grain bar and drank some juice, but later vomited it up. Kara put John into the bathtub where he stopped breathing.
When Justin arrived home, Kara told him that John was not breathing. Justin called 911. When officers arrived at the scene it was clear to them that John had been abused. John was transported to the hospital where he died shortly after. The autopsy showed that John's death was a homicide and the two adults that were supposed to be caring for him were charged.
Justin was arrested for aggravated child abuse, child abuse, child neglect, and failing to report child neglect. Kara was arrested for the same four charges. Six months after John's death, Justin and Kara were charged with first degree murder. Justin took a plea deal and testified against Kara. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The jury found Kara guilty of manslaughter. She was sentenced to twenty-eight years.
Find a Grave
Find a Grave