FORT WAYNE, Ind. – An Indiana woman told police investigators she fed her 3-year-old son olive oil and vinegar until he stopped breathing and died, then wrapped his body in a blanket and hid it for more than a year, according to court documents.
Fort Wayne police arrested Latisha Ann Lawson this week after family members reported her and her two children missing. Officers found Lawson and her 10-year-old daughter living in a house that a church had provided for them in recent weeks.
They also found a young boy's remains inside a tote bag at the home, and a coroner on Wednesday ruled strangulation as the child's cause of death. Police are awaiting DNA test results, but have said the remains are believed to be those of Lawson's son, Jezaih King.
Allen County coroner investigator Becky Stuttle said her office didn't try to determine when the boy died, but that the body was in a state of decomposition.
Lawson, 31, told investigators that in November 2009 she fed Jezaih the olive oil and vinegar because she was frustrated with his temper tantrums, according to Allen County court documents. She said she then put his wrapped body in a closet at the home where she was then living, the documents say.
Lawson remained jailed Wednesday on a felony charge of neglect of a dependent causing death. A judge scheduled a court hearing for next week after ruling Tuesday that there was probable cause for her arrest. She didn't yet have a defense attorney Wednesday.
Lawson's daughter was taken into protective custody.
Elisha Harris, pastor of the Oakridge Temple Church and Ministry, said Lawson had approached the church, saying she and her daughter had no place to live. He arranged for them to stay in the house that was being renovated into a shelter.
"After some discussion, our church decided to give her a place to stay," Harris told The Journal Gazette. "We were just trying to help her from being hurt, from being out in the cold."
Harris said he didn't remember Lawson having a bag large enough to hold a body.
"When she came there, she just had a few bags; she didn't have nothing that big," he said. "Apparently, she must have gone back somewhere to get these other things."
Harris said he heard from others in his congregation that Lawson was running from her family or that she wanted no part of her family.
Bobbie Piper, who lives next to the home where Lawson was most recently staying, said she saw no signs of trouble.
"We only knew of the daughter, we never knew about the son," she said.