08/16/04 — Dad, 17, accused in child's death

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Dad, 17, accused in child's death

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 16, 2004 2:05 PM

A 14-month-old boy has died and his 17-year-old father has been charged by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office with murder.

The toddler, Malachi Jaahonelynn Edmundson, stopped breathing Friday at the father's home, detectives said. After a call to 911, the Goldsboro Rescue Squad and Elroy first-responders were dispatched to the home, which is on Rifle Range Road.

The child was rushed by ambulance to Wayne Memorial Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived.

The body was transferred Saturday to the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill. A preliminary autopsy revealed that the child died from injuries to his abdomen, detectives said. The final autopsy will not be completed for about two months, detectives said.

Donald Elbert Purnell


The father, Donald Elbert Purnell, a Spring Creek High School student, was arrested and charged Saturday night with murder.

He was taken before a magistrate who ordered that Purnell be held in the Wayne County Jail without bond. Purnell's first court appearance to determine his legal representation was scheduled for today.

The child had been visiting his father for about a week. The mother, 17-year-old Jameese Edmundson, lived elsewhere. She was not charged.

"This is indeed a tragedy," Sheriff Carey Winders said. "A lot of people are affected by the loss of a small child. I compliment the detective division for their aggressiveness in this investigation."

Detective Sgts. Dean Roscoe and Tammy Odom investigated the case with assistance from Detective Sgts. Tony Morris and Ray Brogden, Detectives Robert Chunn and Mike Reid, Deputy Michael Biggins and Maj. Glenn Odom.