A Dayton Daily News investigation found that 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson’s February 2017 death at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, Ryan “Luke” St. John, followed a Dayton police and Children Services intervention when St. John was suspected of abusing Brayden in 2015.
Our investigation into Brayden’s death found critical mistakes were made by Dayton Police and other agencies that may have put Brayden at grave risk.
Here is a timeline of Brayden’s short life and police and other agencies’ involvement:
March 24, 2014: Brayden Ferguson is born.
Dec. 23, 2014: Brayden’s 17-year-old father, Darryl Ferguson, is indicted for the June 2014 beating of Ryan Adams that led to Adams’ death two months later. Ferguson was later sentenced to 11 years in prison.
October 10, 2015: Brayden was discharged from the hospital after being admitted for dehydration and falling down. A physician did blood work that showed elevated liver enzymes.
Nov. 19, 2015: Brayden is taken to Dayton Children’s Hospital covered in bruises. His mother, Kelsie Martin, and her boyfriend Ryan “Luke” St. John say he apparently fell out of his playpen. Hospital staff suspect child abuse and call police and Children Services.
Nov. 19, 2015: St. John is arrested and interviewed downtown by Det. Lindsey Dulaney, where he denies harming Brayden. He is released after 48 hours without being formally charged.
Nov. 20, 2015: Montgomery County assistant prosecuting attorney Emily Sluk requests additional information from Dulaney. Dulaney doesn’t respond.
Nov. 23, 2015: Brayden is released from the hospital and into the custody of Dawn Patrick, Martin’s great-aunt, on a Children Services safety plan.
Nov. 30, 2015: Dulaney logs that she began an investigation on Nov. 19 but writes down no details of the investigation. She does write that supplemental reports will follow.
Dec. 8, 2015: Children Services files a complaint in Montgomery County Juvenile Court seeking to give Patrick temporary custody of Brayden. The complaint lists extensive injuries Brayden suffered and says, Dulaney “reported there are text messages between Ryan St. John and Mother discussing ways to cover up the Child’s injuries and to not take the child to the hospital.”
Jan. 7, 2016: Children Services caseworker notes from a face-to-face visit includes a report that “Kelsie is still seeing offender.”
March 15, 2016: A court order extending Patrick’s custody of Brayden alleges St. John was responsible for the boy’s injuries and includes: “there shall be no contact with Ryan St John.” Custody is extended through December 2016.
March 16, 2016: Children Services caseworker notes from a face-to-face visit includes a report that Martin’s car was seen at St. John’s house.
May 9, 2016: Sluk requests additional information from Dulaney. Dulaney doesn’t respond.
May 12: 2016: Dulaney creates an entry into the police investigative logs but writes down no new information.
Aug. 22, 2016: Juvenile Court gives custody back to Martin early after she complies with the terms of her case plan, including parenting classes. The judge places Brayden under protective supervision, which mandate routine visits from Children Services caseworkers to monitor the child’s welfare.
Aug. 29, 2016: Sluk requests additional information from Dulaney. Dulaney doesn’t respond.
Nov. 3, 2016: Martin gives birth to a boy named Ryan, named after his father: St. John. Patrick and others say caseworkers didn’t heed repeated warnings that St. John, Martin and Brayden were living together.
Nov. 10, 2016: Dulaney enters the details of her investigation into the police system and writes that Sluk declined charges.
Nov. 18, 2016: A review of Martin’s case plan found she was complying with its requirements. It notes it is unclear who abused Brayden, but “(Martin) will need to be especially watchful from this point forward, making sure Brayden is left with safe caregivers.”
Feb. 6, 2017: An order filed in Juvenile Court approves a “substantive change” to the case plan, but records do not indicate what that change was.
Feb. 13, 2017: Martin leaves Brayden alone with St. John, who allegedly slams the boy’s head into a wall then places him in bed. Brayden stopped breathing while Finding Dory played on the TV. Martin came home and smoked weed with St. John, watched a movie and took a shower before finding Brayden unresponsive, according to police records and trial testimony.
Feb. 14, 2017: Police take St. John into custody. Brayden is later declared dead.
Feb. 16, 2017: St. John is charged with Brayden’s murder.
Sept. 26, 2017: Dulaney creates an entry into the police investigative logs but writes down no new information.
Dec. 24, 2017: An investigation into Dulaney’s handling of the case finds multiple violations of policy, including not responding to Sluk’s requests, not entering information into the police system, and lying on a special report.
Feb. 15, 2018: Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl finds Dulaney guilty of not following-up on the investigation, but not guilty of more serious charges including falsifying a report. She forfeits five vacation days as part of her discipline.
April 6, 2018: St. John is convicted of killing Brayden. He is scheduled for sentencing in May.
April 12, 2018: Dayton police tell the Dayton Daily News they are investigating how this case was handled on every level. Children Services officials say their policy is to review such cases, but the findings of that review are not public. They say there are no records of any Children Services employee being disciplined for how the case was handled.