Child abuse, including dehydration, killed a 4-year-old New York City boy whose father's girlfriend has been accused of tormenting him while his father was in jail, medical examiners said Thursday.
The city medical examiner's office ruled Myls Dobson's Jan. 8 death a homicide, a finding that could mean upgraded charges in a case that prompted the mayor to order changes at the city's child welfare agency.
Medical examiners cited child abuse syndrome, a term that generally encompasses multiple injuries. They wouldn't disclose specifics, but the Manhattan district attorney's office has said the girlfriend, Kryzie King, seared Myls' leg with a hot oven rack, bound him with shoelaces, whipped him with a wire, beat him with a belt and watched him starve before he was found unconscious in her Manhattan apartment.
"I wanted to show him love," King later told police, according to an account of her statements filed in court this winter.
King pleaded not guilty in February to charges including assault and reckless endangerment, but prosecutors said then that more serious charges were likely if Myls' death were ruled a homicide.
The DA's office declined to comment Thursday.
King's lawyer, Bryan Konoski, said prosecutors hadn't informed him of the ruling, and he was frustrated to learn of it from reporters.
According to the account of her statements, King also said that the child's picky appetite and difficult and "disrespectful" behavior made her angry and spurred her to beat him repeatedly and even lock him on a freezing terrace for up to an hour during roughly three weeks of caring for a boy she knew had led a rocky life.
"He said he didn't know why no one loved him and said, 'Everyone tries to give me away,'" she told police.
Myls tried to dodge King's blows and even crawled under the bed to get away from her, she acknowledged. She told police he died after falling in her bathroom.
Myls' mother lost custody of him in 2012. He was left in King's care when his father was arrested in December on charges of failing to show up for court in an unrelated New Jersey case.
The boy was happy and healthy when King took charge of him, prosecutors say, but his body was bruised, burned, laced with cuts and 10 to 20 pounds lighter when he died.
The city Administration for Children's Services missed possible signs that Myls was at risk earlier in his life, including the fact his father was in jail while he had custody of the boy from September 2012 to February 2013, officials said after a review. Agency case workers had been told the father was at work during their repeated visits to the home, officials said.
The review prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce a list of changes to the agency, such as expanding its access to law enforcement databases to assess whether caregivers are reliable.