Police in Pennsylvania have arrested two people over the violent death of a young boy on Tuesday (23 January).
The 19-year-old Lisa Smith and her partner Keiff King, 26, are charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault over the incident, which prosecutors say happened after the young boy dropped a bowl of cereal. Tajir Smith, from Willow Park, was just 4 when he died.
Investigators say King and Smith disciplined the boy by sending him to bed. They then removed his clothes, beat him with a sandal and punched him, leaving severe imprints on his body. When the child stopped breathing, the pair dressed him and brought him to hospital, concocting a story that he collapsed following a visit to a local shop.
Officers who attended the scene said the house was in "deplorable condition" and crawling with cockroaches.
Coroners who examined Tajir say they also found older injuries on the boy's ribs. The couple's charge may be upgraded to murder once final autopsy results are made available.
"[He was] severely punished and beaten and then burned in a shower," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said.
"Unfortunately, it looks like the child didn't go through this the first time last night," he added. "It's gonna be our time to stand up for a child who can't speak for himself anymore."
King and Smith are currently behind bars and held on $500,000 bail. Smith is believed to be eight months pregnant.