A Dayton man faces murder charges following the death of 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson, the boy whose mother said was watching the animated movie “Finding Dory” before his brain-dead body turned blue from severe trauma.
Ryan Luke St. John, 22, is charged with two counts of murder; two counts child endangering; and single counts of involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. He stood with arms crossed throughout a 90-second video court appearance during which a judge ordered him held on $500,000 bond.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the boy a family friend called “that perfect little Gerber baby” are preparing arrangements for the child’s burial. A casket has been donated.
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“He always had the biggest smile on his face,” said family friend Teresa Couch during a Wednesday night vigil service. “This time last year we took him to Newport Aquarium and he loved all the sharks and big fish there.”
In an interview after the child’s death, 20-year-old mother Kelsie Martin, who has a 3-month-old child with St. John, said her older son’s face appeared to have been “gripped” by a hand and bruised.
St. John, who goes by Luke, and Ferguson spent about two hours alone together before St. John fled the scene and refused to return when the child turned blue, according to an affidavit and statement of facts filed in Dayton Municipal Court.
“Prior to being left alone with St. John it is reported that the child was in good health and uninjured,” the affidavit states. “Once the (child’s) mother returned home she checked on the child and he appeared to be ‘daydreaming.’ She then got in the shower and when she checked on the child again he was blue.”
Police records indicate St. John was involved with, but was not charged in, a 2015 incident with the child.
Children Services officials were handling a case with the family, but would not elaborate when asked by the Dayton Daily News to detail the case’s nature. The incarcerated St. John’s father, Bryan St. John, has said his son should not have been in contact with the 2-year-old due to the case.
“The Children Services worker knew he was in the house when he shouldn’t have been in the house,” Bryan St. John said. “I would like to see that Children Services worker held accountable for this as well as anything that, if the evidence shows my son did this, he needs to be held accountable as well.”
Martin said she allowed St. John and two siblings to stay in her residence “because their mom just got kicked out” and “they didn’t have nowhere to go.”
The Dayton Daily News asked Dayton police for an interview regarding the investigation. No response was obtained.
The deceased child’s 19-year-old father, Darryl Ferguson, is serving the first year of an 11-year voluntary manslaughter sentence at a state correctional institution in Noble County for the 2014 beating death of Ryan Adams.