08/18/04 — Couple mourn death of grandson

View Archive

Couple mourn death of grandson

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 18, 2004 2:12 PM

Malachi Edmundson

Malachi Edmundson's family says the room would light up when he would walk in.

On Friday, that light went out. Malachi, who was 14 months old, was killed.

The next day, sheriff's detectives charged Donald Elbert Purnell, age 17, with the crime.

Malachi and his 17-year-old mother Jameese Edmundson lived with her parents, Loresse and David Earl Jr.

The baby loved to smile, said Earl. "He was a friendly little guy ... He brought a lot of love into my life."

Earl and his grandson were quite a pair, said Mrs. Earl. "I got them on video a few times, sharing, loving ... I had a wonderful grandson. He was just a joy ... He had a sense of humor. He'd try to make you laugh. He was a good baby."

The grandparents work together at a bakery. One day, they took the baby to work with them. He would sit in his stroller and wave as if he were in a parade.

The grandparents and his mother, Jameese, would keep Malachi in shifts. She was a full-time mom -- almost. "When we got off work, she was a teen-ager," Mrs. Earl said.

Mrs. Earl says Jameese is devastated.

Jameese attended church for comfort Sunday at St. James AME Zion Church, said Donnie McIntyre, owner of McIntyre Funeral Home Ministries on George Street. She is surrounded by love, he said. But what the family is going through is "sorrowful. It will break your heart."

Mrs. Earl recalls giving Malachi his first haircut when he was a year old. He jumped up and ran straight to the mirror.

"My husband fixed him up a wagon, with armrests on it. He'd sit on the wagon, with his arms stretched out like a king. It's like he knew it when my spirits were down. The whole house was like his little playground. I'm going to miss him so much."

The Sheriff's Office said that Malachi died from being hit in the stomach by Donald Elbert Purnell. The report said Purnell was the father, but Mrs. Earl said he was not. No father is listed on the birth certificate.

Mrs. Earl said Jameese and Malachi's real father broke up, and Purnell took to Malachi as if he were his own.

The Sheriff's Office said Purnell is 17 and a student at Spring Creek High School. He lived on Rifle Range Road where the crime occurred. He is being held in jail without bond.

"We met him maybe twice," Mrs. Earl said of Purnell. "We didn't know much about him. He just recently came into the child's life."

Mrs. Earl said she didn't like it when Jameese recently started letting Purnell keep the baby. "Kids shouldn't be taken to somebody else's house until they're old enough to tell you what they've done while they're out."

She said it doesn't matter whether they are aunts, uncles or close family members.

"Folks act like they love you," she said, "but you never know what goes through people's minds."