Police have arrested a Rockingham man for the death of a 21-month-old boy found at a local motel earlier this month.
After a two-week investigation, Kydeem Ervin Balile Swinnie, 19, of 105 Frank Davis Road, Rockingham, has been charged with first degree murder, according to the Rockingham Police Department.
The toddler was found on Wednesday, May 10, in a motel with Swinnie, who was watching the child while its mother was out running errands, police said. Swinnie had been maintaining a permanent residence in the motel for some time and was not the child’s biological father, according to police.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., Swinnie notified 911 dispatch that the child had gone into cardiac arrest and was not breathing. EMS was immediately notified.
When first responders arrived on the scene, the child was taken to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly. The chief said he could not release the child’s name.
Upon arrival at the motel, Chief Kelly said officers recognized Swinnie for having an outstanding warrant on a charge of assault by strangulation. He was then taken into custody on the previous warrant.
“The (State Bureau of Investigation) and the police department continued the investigation,” Kelly said, “and, through medical examination, were able to take out a warrant on Swinnie for first degree murder.”
Police said that the combination of autopsy results and further investigation provided them with enough evidence to determine the cause of death.
On the earlier warrant alleging assault by strangulation, Swinnie remained in jail until sometime last week when he was released from custody, Kelly said.
Swinnie was arrested on the homicide charge on Wednesday of this week, and was again placed in the Richmond County Jail, with no bond. After a court hearing on Thursday, his bond was lowered to $300,000. He remained in custody.
“We’re glad we were able to close this case,” Chief Kelly said.
He added that the SBI was a valuable resource for the police department.
“They gave us all the help we needed,” Kelly said, “and their assistance really made this arrest possible.”
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.