This Rise and Fall of my Angel, my Hero: Kendrell

A guest post from Candis McFadden, an advocate for Child Abuse Prevention

Ceirra Hoch
Child and Family Charities

Kendrell was born on October 23, 2006 healthy, happy, hairy and always smiling.He had beautiful brown eyes, dark skin and a full head of curly hair, plus a small coat of hair covering his entire body. 

 Kendrell was my second son, I was so happy to give my eldest, Spencer a little brother. Spencer may have been more excited than I was though. He went everywhere Kendrell was; whether he was sleeping, eating, or getting his diaper changed, Spencer, was next to him.

From the beginning, Kendrell’s Dad was not very present physically or financially, so when he did pop-up and wanted to see Kendrell I figured him visiting occasionally was better than Kendrell having no father at all. He would occasionally show up at night and offer to stay up with Kendrell while I caught up on some much needed sleep. Of course, being a single mom, in class, and working, I would take him up on that offer as often as possible. This is when it started.

I recall one night waking up to Logan shaking me and telling me Kendrell had fallen out of his arms, but he had caught him and “saved his life”. I got out of bed, and checked on Kendrell. He was in his bed crying a little but seemed to be settling down, he also had a small scratch under his eye,  Logan assured me it was just from his finger hitting his eye when he caught him and (of course reminded me) when he “saved his life”. 

Two months later Kendrell now 3.5 months old, and Spencer would be turning five in two days and I had just moved into a new apartment. We were excited to start anew and begin to get our home together.

That night, Logan called and wanted to see Kendrell, however I did not want to see him due to his girlfriend recently assaulting me. But not wanting to be one of those Moms who didn’t allow their child to have a Father because we did not get along, I agreed to let him come over. Later that evening Logan arrived with a box of clothes in arm and claiming that this time was going to be different; that he wanted to be there for me and the kids and that life was going to be just grand. We spent the evening beginning to unpack and when bed time rolled around Logan volunteered to tend to Kendrell if he woke up.

That night is one of those nights, a night you wish over and over had never happened. A night that replays in my mind over and over and just when you catch yourself smiling, you are taken back to that moment making me sad, angry, depressed and so many more emotions, as if it were happening all over again.

The next morning, March 16th 2007, a day that I will never forget. A day I wish had never happened, that I sometimes pray and ask that if there is such a thing as a second chance – please let this be the day I can use it.  I woke up maybe once throughout the night because I heard Kendrell crying, it was just a small cry, one that said “I am hungry”, but before I got up I heard Logan shaking a bottle and Kendrell quieting down, so I stayed in bed cuddled next to Spencer.

We woke up and everything was normal, or so I thought. I went to check on Kendrell, who was in the porta-crib in the living room still asleep. Logan and I discussed everything we had to do that day and made a plan to finish unpacking. As we sat at the table I remember looking at Kendrell in the playpen, his eyes were beginning to open now, he didn’t move too much or begin to cry. He just laid there with a glazed look. I told Logan that Kendrell looked sick, like he may have a cold. His eyes were kind of watery and he was just laying around only moving a little here and there. I will never forget the words Logan said then “Girl you’re always worried about something with these damn kids, he is fine! You always trying to take them to the doctors, he is probably just tired.” I assumed he was right, maybe I was just being a worry wart.  We spent the entire morning unpacking and moving things to storage.  That day anytime Kendrell needed his diaper changed, was hungry or needed a bath, Logan hurried and did it. This made me think that maybe he really did want to change and was going to be the tentative father he promised. After spending the day unpacking I made plans to leave.  This is when my whole world stopped. 

I told Spencer that him, Kendrell and I could walk across the street to get ice cream, since it was finally nice out. I told Logan and he said he would just watch Kendrell, so that Spencer and I could go, but I had really wanted to take Kendrell and Spencer was not going to leave without his little brother. I went to pick Kendrell up from the swing and Logan began pacing the house and acting weird, but I didn’t think much of it. This was the first time I had actually picked him up all morning, since Logan had been tending to him. I picked Kendrell up and his whole body was limp. When I say limp, I mean imagine picking up a doll, his head fell back, his arms and legs just lay to the side dangling from his body, and his eyes were only slightly opened.  My heart dropped and panic set in, I said aloud, “I think Kendrell is really sick, we should go to ER now!” Frantically, I turned around to ask Logan whether we should call 911 or if we should just drive him, since we were right down the street, as I am turning around, all I see is him walking out the door. 

I didn’t take time to think about why he would be leaving at such a crucial moment. All I could think about was getting Kendrell medical attention. Spencer, Kendrell and I were driven to the hospital by a friend who lived down the street. I brought his car seat, but held him in my arms the whole trip.  From here everything seems like a movie scene on repeat in slow motion.

When we walked in I told the nurses that I thought he was sick with pneumonia or something. They told us to sit and they would call us when it was our turn to be seen.  We sat down in the waiting room next to people there for colds, kids with fevers, and people who just looked in rough shape.  Kendrell started making a weird wheezing noise, I told the nurse and she said he would be fine and that they would call us when it was our turn again.  He started making a weirder noise and it was getting longer and more drawn out. It seemed like it was getting harder and harder for him to make any kind of noise, let alone breathe.  I grabbed Spencer, ran back into a room and told a nurse to look at him right now. While she laid him on a table to weigh him I had people yelling at us and threatening to kick us out for going in a room without being called. All of the sudden I hear “CODE BLACK” and alarms start going off, lights start blinking, and people began rushing us. I thought it was due to me disobeying the rules, but I turned around and see my son being surrounded by tons of people in scrubs. They moved him from the scale to a larger bed and pushed Spencer and I into the hallway. They instructed us to stand behind the line on the floor. I am scared not knowing what is happening and begin crying.  Spencer is clinging to me and crying because I am crying and his baby brother is hidden beneath a sea of doctors and nurses. It all blends together, the noise, the crying, the alarms, the blinking lights, the yelling. I snapped out of the daze when a nurse began yelled at me “What goes on at your house?! Why do you have two black eyes? Why does this child have multiple broken ribs that I can feel, why is he unresponsive?”  I fell on the ground crying and motionless, just holding on to Spencer.

Spencer and I spent the next few hours in the “Family Room”. I knew something awful had happened, but no one would tell me anything. I called Logan to let him know what was happening and that he needs to come to the hospital as soon as possible. He replied that he would try, but he was busy. I was blown away by the answer, but didn’t put too much thought into it as my thoughts were with my sons. Spencer was in a state of panic shaking, crying and desperately clinging to me. Finally after hours of not knowing where my son was or what was happening, a doctor came in and gave me the most horrific news of my life. Kendrell was in the Pediatric Care Unit and he wouldn’t make it on Life Support and was likely going to pass away before the day/night ended. I texted Logan. “You need to get up here now, Drelly is sick and they said he is on life support, and he isn’t going to make it.”  I get a reply back: “K, Ill c wht I can do, Im making money right now.”

I don’t know how long I was in this small room. People that I had called and texted came by, all except Kendrell’s father.  I couldn’t even begin to guess how long I sat in the bathroom and cried, or was on the phone with my brother, but didn’t say anything.  I went in Kendrell’s room and just cried, I wanted to hold him one last time and it took 7 nurses to move him from his bed because of all his tubes equipment.

They had to do emergency surgery on Kendrell to put a tube in his head to relieve the pressure. I was told that every nerve in his head had detached from his brain. This is when I was asked about abuse. I explained to both nurses, doctors and later child protective services and police that I had black eyes due to a group of females attacking me. I explained that I did not know anything about Kendrell being abused or even what this “Shaken Baby Syndrome” was.  I continued to try to reach his dad, and got the same response, it’s now 12:30am.

I just sat in his room starring at this monitor, knowing that if it went under a certain number that meant he was brain dead; so all I did was stare at this number. At 2:45 am I got a call from Logan’s friend saying he was outside the hospital and wanted me to come meet him at the doors.  I walk down there still not connecting the dots. I even thought maybe I was the reason Kendrell was hurt, that maybe I had burped him too hard or had maybe put him in his swing and had it on too fast? I thought I did it.

When Logan’s friend walks in, he says Logan is outside, but wanted to make sure there were no cops here before he came in. I was confused by this, but I assured him there were no cops.  He called Logan and let him know. Logan came in and we walked upstairs. When we were let in to see Kendrell the doors opened and the police and CPS were there to see Logan and myself.  I told Logan that I didn’t know they were here and that I had already spoke to them early on. He and his friend ran out of the hospital and began went on a high speed chase with the cops. He ended up getting away and going on the run.

Right then and there you would think it would register, you would think I understood or something would finally click, but it didn’t. I continued to stick up for Logan for some time. It didn’t register until I was being told the extent of damage done to Kendrell. He was blind in both eyes from blood pooling and had 17 broken ribs or fractures. Then I was told that he had OLD broken or fractured ribs that were already showing signs of healing and old blood spots on his brain revealing that he had most likely received some sort of head trauma earlier, within about the past 2 weeks. Two weeks, two weeks was the time frame, give or take a few days since I had last seen Logan. It all clicked. It all made sense. I was disgusted!

My son was in the hospital fighting for his life every second of every day for months – but I had to leave my son’s side and go explain in court my “case” and beg to be allowed to be in the hospital next to my son’s bedside.  and I had to go to court and fight for custody of both of my children since I was in the house when this happened.  I had to be around court appointed people when my Spencer was around until I finished all the court ordered tests. They say I completed the tests in record time, but I didn’t think about it. I just knew what I had to do for my kids.

We spent Spencer’s birthday in the Intensive care unit, we had people come and say their goodbyes to Kendrell. We had our Priest come say the last rites over Kendrell, and people came and did his hand and foot prints for me. The hospital began using him as example of an abused child for students and doctors. It was all so devastating. Even typing this right now I can remember sitting on the little chair next to his bed and listening people speak about my son as if he were a prop or a procedure and just crying silently because I refused to speak to anyone.  

Fast forward 3 months.

My Son woke up!!! He did what they said he wouldn’t. I had known deep down that he would. He’s my hero, he’s the breath I take every day, and he did it. Things started moving quickly then. He was soon moved to a lower unit, where he started receiving physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy. Kendrell improved every day and was eventually moved to an In-Patient Rehab Center where we lived for about 2 months.

After eventually being caught by the police Logan Morris was only charged with Second Degree Child Abuse, a lesser charge since Kendrell was taken off Life Support. Apparently, if your child does a little better and does not die, then the crime must not have been that bad. Logan was sentenced to 4-8 years, but only served four.

Kendrell went through so many surgeries I cannot keep track of them and was on a long list of medicines.  He remained blind in his right eye and had only partial sight after two surgeries in his left eye.  He could not walk, talk, or crawl.  He could not do anything a “normal” child his age would be capable of.  He could smile though and that he did!!

On July 4, 2010 Kendrell continued to beat the odds. While he was in his walker Kendrell was able to push himself backwards two steps. This was an amazing feat!! It was his first time moving himself more than a small push.  I was overwhelmed with joy, as was his brother. Later that evening we watched the fireworks while Kendrell was in his bed inside on his feeding tube.  I had his window open so that we could sit next to the window and talk to him through it. I went to bed happy and excited for the next day. I wondered if Kendrell would take any more steps.

The morning of July 5, 2010 I woke up around 8:45am to prepare to work the rare day shift. I got Spencer some breakfast and was ready to face the day. I was already excited to get home to my boys. I went into Kendrell’s room to say goodbye and found him covered with a blanket. He sometimes slept like this, or would cover himself when we asked where Kendrell was, a play at the game peek-a-boo. I moved the blanket and found him lying there with blue lips and foam in the corner of his mouth. Screaming and crying, I moved him to the living room and called 911 on speaker phone while I started CPR. They instructed me on what to do, but nothing was helping.  I continued to cry trying to stay strong because Spencer was standing in the room.  An ambulance and about 5 other cars showed up to our apartment that morning. They moved me aside and started working on. People were screaming something to someone, while other ones were on the phone pacing, a few put IVs in him, while another performed CPR. This is something no one should ever see done to your child.  A small, innocent child. I rode in the ambulance with him as he was rushed to the hospital. The driver is tried to comfort me and say everything is okay, it’s all right. We both knew it wasn’t. We reached the hospital a swarm of scrubs rushed over and ran Kendrell inside the hospital. They told me to stay back and that someone would escort me to the hall. I collapsed on the ground. Outside I sat on my knees crying, praying, and screaming. Someone walked me to a hallway and sat me in a metal folding chair outside a closed door. I sat there for what felt like an eternity. I remember  hearing the door open and looking up praying for good news, only to see about 6 or 7 doctors walk out with their heads hung low. One doctor looked at me and shook his head.  I screamed at them telling them to fix this, to do more. There had to be more they could do. I offered to give my organs to save him, anything, everything.  I picked up that stupid metal folding chair and threw it then dropped to my knees crying. A nurse who had been in the hallway told me to “keep it down because there were other patients trying to sleep, and heal.” I cussed her out, I didn’t care. Doesn’t she know what I am going through!?!

The first thing I see when I walk into the room is a nurse in the corner being held by another nurse and they are both crying, for some reason this upset me.  Why are they crying? I was mad about it all. Kendrell was laying on the cold stretcher, naked with a white sheet covering him up to his shoulders.  He looked at peace. He looked like he was smiling. I had to wait to touch him until CPS came in and looked him over to make sure there were no signs of abuse. Again, devastating. Once I got the okay I just laid with him, I felt at peace next to him. I tried to hold his hand, but he was already stiffening up, it was horrible. I loved him, I love him, and I will love him. That’s my son. That’s my hero.

I now have this empty void in me. I do speeches, and am slowly working to pass laws in honor of my son.  He will not be forgotten. His abuser is now walking freely, and I am trying to change that. I think he should be sentenced for murder. My son died because of a massive seizure he had as a result of the brain damage he received from LOGAN.  How is this fair?