A mother who admitted to torturing her 3-year-old son to death “used a lighter to burn the victim's genital area in an attempt to stop the victim from urinating on the floor,” according to an arrest report released Wednesday.
Fafane Caze, 21, was jailed on one count of aggravated child abuse/torture late Tuesday night after more than 10 hours of questioning.
North Miami Maj. Neal Cuevas said Caze showed no emotion as she told detectives about the abuse.
“She cared more about getting arrested than she did about her son,” he said.
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A judge decided on Wednesday afternoon to hold Caze in jail on a new charge of attempted felony murder. A murder charge is pending as the medical examiner’s office catalogs the toddler’s injuries.
A North Miami police detective testified Wednesday that the child had burns on his genitals, face and fingers. He also had buckle-shaped scars, detective Alonzo Rhymer testified.
“Some were fresh, some were old,” he testified.
He said after the child urinated on the floor, the mother used a lighter to burn him. When he defecated on himself, she beat him with an aluminum broom handle, which detectives found broken in two in the home, Rhymer testified.
She admitted to hurling the boy across the room and that he hit a table, gasped for air, asked for water and was struggling to breathe. Then she called 911, the detective said.
According the report, Caze beat her son with her security guard duty belt, leaving multiple scars and open wounds.
Caze “refused to seek medical attention to treat the victim's injuries, instead concocted a remedy of vegetable oil and laundry blue to treat the victim's wounds,” a North Miami detective wrote.
The youngster, Ghanson Debrosse, was taken by ambulance to Jackson North Medical Center shortly after 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, but to no avail. Doctors believe he had been dead for at least three hours, Cuevas said.
“There were signs of abuse on every inch of his body, and he really suffered,” Cuevas said of the boy. The major added that there was evidence of both past and present abuse.
“There were signs of his being burned — his lips, his face, his fingers,” Cuevas said. “Somebody is going to be held accountable for this. She [the mother] has a responsibility for the health and welfare of this child.”
Caze, who lived in the 12500 block of Northeast 13th Avenue, initially told police she had picked the toddler up from the airport only two weeks earlier after the boy had an extended stay with relatives in Haiti. She said her son had been hurt there, not in South Florida. But both Cuevas and a Herald source said Ghanson had “fresh” injuries that could not have occurred weeks ago.
Before the arrest was announced, North Miami police were getting in touch with their counterparts with the Haitian National Police, Cuevas said, so that officers there could check her claim that Ghanson had been abused in Haiti.
The boy’s two siblings — a 4-year-old girl who will celebrate her birthday within a week, and a 1-year-old boy — were taken into state care early Tuesday by the Department of Children & Families. On Wednesday afternoon, the agency will ask a judge to allow the state to retain custody.
DCF Secretary Esther Jacobo told the Herald her agency had received three prior reports about the family, all in the year 2010.
“My heart is breaking for this child,” Jacobo said in a prepared statement. “As we continue to investigate and work with law enforcement, it is evident that Ghanson had a very tragic and tortured life which ended far too soon. Although we had contact with Ghanson and his family when he was an infant, we received no reports since that time and no one could have predicted this heartbreaking tragedy.
“Now we must focus our complete attention to protecting Ghanson’s siblings and working with law enforcement to see that those responsible for his death are held accountable,” Jacobo added. “A tragedy as immense as this causes us to pause and reflect on the importance of our work, but we can never stop — for Ghanson and for other children who we can save from suffering.”
Records show that Caze already was the subject of a child-abuse investigation in November 2010 when the agency received a report saying that a violent altercation between her and Ghanson’s father, Donald Debrosse, had left the then-infant in danger.
Though records from that period were redacted by DCF, they suggest that someone was concerned that Caze — who was about 17 at the time and had two very small children — was being sexually abused by an older man. Notes from that investigation say Caze’s father was living in New York then, and he described Caze as “ungovernable,” adding that she had been troubled “since the age of 14.” Caze’s father told an investigator he sent the girl to Haiti, “but she was able to come back to Florida.”
Debrosse, 41, told an investigator he met Caze as she was walking down 70th Street. He said the young mother was pushing a stroller, and he stopped her and asked whether she was all right. Caze got into Debrosse’s car. He gave her food, and “eventually she just started moving her things into [Debrosse’s] home,” he said.
While the October 2010 report was still under investigation, DCF received a new complaint later that same month. Caze had been arrested, and was being evaluated at Miami’s Juvenile Assessment Center after she and Debrosse had a physical altercation.
A DCF report on that incident said Caze was holding Ghanson, then an infant, in her arms while attacking the boy’s father and “throwing things at him.” Both parents, the report said, were injured during the fight. And though Caze allegedly tried to “throw the infant at the father,” records say Ghanson was unharmed.
“The parents fight all the time,” the report alleged. “There are concerns about the mother’s behavior as she is very violent, and recently punched a mirror and broke it with her hand.”
Caze received services from the state designed to improve her parenting skills, “and we hadn’t heard from [the family] since,” Jacobo said.
Police said the child had been “tortured” before his death, with trauma to his head and injuries consistent with having been whipped with an extension cord.
“I’ve been with the North Miami Police Department for 40 years,” Cuevas said. “I’ve seen so much in every aspect of law enforcement. Listening to what I heard this morning from investigators literally brought tears to my eyes.”
“Just to imagine that this 3-year-old was living not five blocks from the police department — and suffered like this,” Cuevas said.