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Kentae Williams

Police: Man drowns autistic son in bathtub just months after he adopted him

“You’re going to die tonight”

An Atlanta-area man is accused of killing his adopted son on Friday night, just six months after he adopted the boy.

NBC 11 Alive reports that Leon Williams Sr., 43, is accused of drowning his son, Kentae Williams, 10, in a bathtub at the Serenade Apartments on Glen Hollow Drive, in Dekalb County. Police said Leon Williams called 911 on Friday night and said that the boy accidentally drowned in the bath. He began CPR on the child while waiting for authorities to arrive. Kentae, who was autistic, was rushed to the Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children where he later died.

Detectives investigating the death noted that there were bruises on the little boy that didn’t seem consistent with an accidental drowning.

“They did notice there were bruises and injuries that were not consistent with a drowning,”  DeKalb County Public Information Officer, Shiera Campbell, said.

A witness, Alicia Lemons, told detectives that she saw Leon Williams earlier on Friday at a BBQ. He was reportedly walking behind the boy with his hand around the child’s neck. She said the suspect was visibly angry after Kentae skipped school for the day.

Kentae Williams [Photo: Family Handout]
Lemons called Leon Williams over, and the suspect told her that his son had also kicked a teacher and called her a vulgar name. She said that as he walked toward his apartment with boy, she overheard Leon Williams say, “You’re going to die tonight.”

“He said in front of all of us, ‘I’m gonna kill him, he’s gonna die tonight, I’m gonna kill him. We didn’t think he would actually go through with it.”

According to the child’s grandmother, who was visiting the suspect when the incident occurred, Leon Williams told Kentae to go take a bath, but the boy began arguing and refused to listen. She said she checked on Kentae periodically and that he seemed to be fine until everything went quiet. The suspect then asked the grandmother to check on Kentae, and when she did, she noticed the child was unconscious with burn marks on his feet.

The grandmother thinks that Kentae may have had a seizure while in the bath.

“At the hospital, injuries didn’t support a seizure,” Officer Shiera Campbell said. “After speaking to the suspect, he admitted to causing harm to the child.”

Leon Williams reportedly beat Kentae with a belt, poured hot water on his feet, then held him under water for up to 45 seconds at a time. He was charged with murder and child cruelty. He remains behind bars in Dekalb County with no bond.

Jatoya Ruff, Kentae’s biological mother, had him she was 14. With no means to support him, the baby stayed with one of his grandmothers for several years, until he was taken away at age 3 by the Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS), that claimed the grandmother didn’t provide a safe home.

“I wanted him to come home,” Ruff said. “I just thought he’d be safe in DFCS until I get myself together.”

For the next three years, Ruff said that she fought to get her little boy back, and would often visit him in foster homes. After a failed attempt at getting a relative to adopt Kentae, Leon Williams adopted him in November.  April Umpstead, the child’s godmother, said that Leon was proud of Kentae and constantly doted on him.

“He was proud of him and proud when Kentae called him dad. He was loved. We all loved him and accepted him and welcomed him.”

Ruff’s mother, Antoinette, blames the system for the death because they didn’t allow Kentae to go back home. She said had DFCS brought Kentae home, he would still be alive today.

“I think the system failed us. I understand people have dysfunction in their family, but she could have let him come home. He wasn’t deprived.”

[Feature Photo: Family Handout]