DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Zettie Cruz says she was heartbroken to learn the 3 year old boy who lived in the apartment upstairs had died.
"I loved that little boy so much," she said.
Denton Police say they were alerted by CPS on Tuesday, January 18, after his grandmother, Angela Downing, 57, showed up with him at a local hospital. She claimed at first, they said, he'd accidentally fallen down a flight of stairs.
"Throughout the investigation, we determined the injures were not consistent to that part," said Lt. Steve Buchanan who oversees Denton Police Department's criminal investigations.
Eventually, police say Downing confessed she'd thrown her grandson so forcefully against the bathroom floor and a wall that he'd fractured his skull and suffered a brain injury.
After five days in the hospital, he died.
Denton Police say Downing had no violent criminal history and that they only knew of one previous investigation into the family by the Department of Family and Protective Services.
"We did have a previous call related to them where children were left in a vehicle while grandmother went into a grocery store for a short time," said Lt Buchanan.
A DFPS spokesperson said she couldn't confirm any prior contacts with the family until the agency had concluded its investigation.
Cruz said she had watched the boy and his 4 year old sister over the last couple months when Downing when shopping for groceries.
"Oh he was precious. He had a nice smile on his face. And he'd play with the cats and watch cartoons. And he'd follow his sister around. He was a good little boy," she said.
She recalled seeing Downing angry with her grandson.
"One day he pooped on himself and she got real upset. She said she was old school and she was going to deal with that," she said, unable to elaborate on what Downing intended.
Police say the grandmother was the children's legal guardian, but, according to Cruz, she talked of being in a custody battle with her son, who police say had relinquished custody.
"She said he wanted custody of the children because he was trying to get on housing or food stamps. Well, she was doing the same thing. She was using the children to get housing," she said.
Cruz said before Downing's arrest Monday, she had no idea the boy had even been in the hospital.
When she saw her earlier that day, she says, the grandmother even appeared to be in a good mood.
"She didn't cry or anything. She was happy. She seemed happy yesterday," she said.
A DFPS spokesperson confirmed the boy's sister is now in foster care.
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