Two Miami Valley residents shaken by the horrors that authorities say a 10-year-old Dayton boy suffered before dying are hosting a community memorial for the child.
The event to honor and remember Takoda Collins is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Polly Parks, the event organizer, said she didn’t know Takoda, but the stories in the Dayton Daily News have sprung her into action.
Authorities say Takoda suffered “extreme” child abuse, including beatings, and he died with cuts and bruises throughout his body. He also allegedly ate his own feces and either drank a lot of water or was held underwater before his death, authorities say.
Police in December arrested three people in connection to the boy’s death. Al-Mutahan McLean, 30; his fiancee Amanda Hinze, 28; and her sister Jennifer Ebert, 24; are all charged with four counts of endangering children, according to court records. Bond was set at $1 million for McLean and at $500,000 each for Hinze and Ebert. They are scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 15.
“I saw the newspaper on Christmas Eve and I couldn’t finish reading it,” Parks said. “I’ve continued following the stories. I can’t take this, and I have to do something,”
She said she reached out to a local child advocacy organization to see if there was anything she could do and was connected to Karen Bocko, who also read the coverage and was interested in honoring Takoda.
“The stories are what connected us. I can’t explain how it’s touched me. It captivated me,” Parks said. “We both have the same feelings and thoughts about it. What can we do? He needs to be honored here.”
Everyone in the community who were also touched by Takoda are invited to attend, she said. Though she didn’t know Takoda, Parks said she feels it’s important that Dayton remembers him.
“We want the whole community, everyone is invited. Their presence would bring, I feel like, it would bring honor to him. There are people online who are outraged but let’s go a step further, we need to honor this little boy.”
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A grief counselor will be available, and is expected to speak to the crowd. Parks is working to learn more about the child to share what he was like before his death, she said.
A Facebook page has been created for the event called “A community Tribute to Takoda Collins.” It is one of a few pages set to bring awareness of Takoda’s story. There have also been thousands of comments posted online about Takoda since the Dayton Daily News posted its first story.
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