Mom’s Boyfriend Charged With Child Abuse Resulting in Death After Toddler Dies

A Nebraska man has been charged with child abuse resulting in death after a 22-month-old boy, hospitalized with obvious signs of abuse on Sunday, died Friday morning.

The boy’s mother told police on Sunday that she had noticed bruises and other injuries on her son almost daily since she had begun dating 32-year-old Josh Tackett in January, but that Tackett always had a ready excuse, KOLN reported.

In one instance, Tackett said he passed out while carrying the boy and fell on top of him. The child’s leg was injured in that incident and he hadn’t been able to bear weight on it since — yet the mother did not bring the boy in for treatment. In another incident, the boy reportedly fell down the stairs.

On Sunday, she said, she put him down for a nap and couldn’t wake him when she checked on him three hours later. She brought him to CHI St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lincoln, and he was life-flighted to Children’s Hospital in Omaha for a higher level of care.

Tackett, 32, was already in jail on gun charges when prosecutors charged him with child abuse. That happened because police began watching his apartment after speaking with the child’s mother on Sunday and saw Tackett’s mother leave the apartment with a pair of shoes and a green rifle case, the Lincoln Journal Star said.

Officers stopped Karen Vestecka, 58, and she told them that she’d heard the baby had multiple injuries. According to an affidavit, investigators believe Vestecka was trying to shield her son from weapons charges since he is a convicted felon and not allowed to possess them.

Vesteck was charged with tampering with physical evidence. And prosecutors charged Tackett with two counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, one count for the Ruger AR .556 rifle in the case his mother took and another for a shotgun they found in the apartment.

Finding him, however, wasn’t as easy as finding Vestecka. In court on Thursday for the gun charges, Deputy County Attorney Jessica Murphy said investigators found him two days after the baby was taken to the hospital “hiding out” at a relative’s home.

Murphy also said that Tackett was a suspect in the child abuse case.

Judge Laurie Yardley set Tackett’s bond at $500,000 on the gun charges. He has not yet been arraigned on the child abuse charge but remains behind bars.

Three other children who lived at the apartment with Tackett and the 22-month-old’s mother were taken into state custody.

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[Featured image: Josh Tackett/Lancaster County Jail]