SPRINGVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Police say a 1-year-old boy was brutally beaten to death just days before his second birthday. The 16-year-old boyfriend of the victim’s mother is behind bars and charged with murder.
Nineteen-year-old Ashlee Smith left her son, Austin, inside a Cochran Avenue home in Springville around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, trusting him to the care of her boyfriend, 16-year-old Dylan Schumaker. Four hours later, Schumaker called 911, reporting the baby was unresponsive. Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard says deputies arriving on scene immediately noticed the substantial bruising all over Austin’s body, and especially around his face.
“The mother’s 16-year-old boyfriend struck the child repeatedly about the face and the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma about the head,” Sheriff Howard said.
Deputies attempted to perform CPR on Austin, who was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Schumaker is being charged as an adult with second degree murder.
The charges stunned his sister, Alex Schumaker. She says Dylan went to Hopevale School and just got out of six months of drug rehab.
“He went to school he did really good in school. He was doing really good after he got out of rehab and then like he had two kids like dumped on him out of nowhere and he just snapped,” Alex said. “He’s my baby brother, like, he can’t do this.”
Dylan Schumaker is not Austin’s father but his parents allowed Ashlee Smith to move in with her two children about a month ago when she was kicked out of her house. A 2-month-old girl who was also in the home and in Schumaker’s care was placed temporarily in the custody of the county.
Authorities say Schumaker and Ashlee Smith have been dating on and off again for three years. The sheriff’s office says because of the closeness of the ages of the couple, statutory rape charges do not apply. Smith is not being charged and is said to be cooperating in the investigation.
Schumaker will be arraigned this week on second degree murder charges in Springville Village Court.
Just two weeks ago, 30-year-old Justin Crouse was charged with murdering his girlfriend’s toddler in the Town of Brant. Just as in this case, Crouse allegedly struck the child, killing him.
Sheriff Howard said, “If any caregiver finds themselves losing control, reach out to a family member, to clergy, call police if necessary. There’s a direct phone number to Crisis Services: 716-834-3131, or just dial 911.”
Schumaker is held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center. The family of Austin Smith is working to set up a fund to help pay for funeral expenses.