Mom’s boyfriend charged in death of 3-year-old
'There's not a more heinous crime than this,' district attorney says; hospital employees didn't believe girl's head, chest injuries were from fall
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a first-degree murder charge against a Lawrence man accused of killing a 3-year-old girl by shaking her, knocking her to the ground and striking her in the head.
“There’s not a more heinous crime than this,” Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said. “This is a defenseless 3-year-old child.”
Jason W. Dillon, 22, is charged with killing Sydni C. Perkins, who was pronounced dead Sunday after being taken to the hospital with head and chest injuries. Dillon is the boyfriend of Perkins’ mother, Rachel Perkins, a 21-year-old Lawrence woman.
Dillon was supposed to have been caring for the girl all day Saturday at the couple’s apartment in the 1100 block of George Court, at Northwinds Apartments.
Branson said he didn’t know what prompted the abuse, but he said that Dillon laid hands on the girl at least three separate times during the day: once when she was knocked down, once when she was shaken and once when he bludgeoned her with his hand.
When Sydni’s mother came home from work around 5 p.m., she found the child alive but unresponsive, Branson said. Investigators believe the child may have been unresponsive for more than two hours, he said.
The couple took the girl to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and the story initially given to hospital employees was that she had fallen in the bathroom, Branson said.
Hospital employees saw that her injuries – bruises on her sternum and around her head – weren’t consistent with a fall and called police.
‘Not a violent person’
The girl was later taken to a Kansas City-area hospital, where she was pronounced dead Sunday. Lawrence Police detectives arrested Dillon on Tuesday after a coroner ruled Sydni died of a traumatic head injury.
Asked whether Dillon had confessed, Branson said he had made “statements consistent with what the injuries were to the child.”
Branson said he had no reason to believe any charges would be filed against the mother.
Dillon, who Branson said works in a trade in the Kansas City area, has no known criminal record. During his first appearance in District Court, he stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped and answered a judge’s questions by saying “yes ma’am.”
“I’m not a violent person in any way,” he told Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel.
Police had never been called to the couple’s apartment before, said Sgt. Dan Ward, a Lawrence Police spokesman. What appeared to be a child’s chalk drawings – swirls, numbers and the outline of a human figure – remained on the sidewalk Wednesday outside the apartment.
Two neighbors interviewed on Wednesday said they didn’t know the couple well but had never heard or seen any signs of trouble.
One of the neighbors, Lora Enfield-Parker, 28, lives two doors down and has a 2-year-old daughter. She said Sydni’s mother once suggested the two girls should play together, but they never followed through.
She said the couple had lived there since early spring. Sydni’s mother always had her dressed nicely, she said.
“She seemed very smart and was a very beautiful girl,” Enfield-Parker said.
The other neighbor declined to give his name.
Dillon told the judge he was raised in Eudora and lived for 4 1/2 years at O’Connell Youth Ranch, a group home for boys who have been placed in state custody. He also said he spent some time living in Wyandotte County.
A student with the same name and age appears in a list of 2001 graduates of Lawrence High School. LHS announcements at the time also listed Jason Dillon as the recipient of a track scholarship to Kansas City, Kan., Community College and the “Challenge Award,” which is given to students who have been in foster care and have plans for what they hope to accomplish in the future.
LHS track coach Scott Stidham said the Jason Dillon he remembered from the class of 2001 was a javelin thrower and lived at O’Connell Youth Ranch.