Crime & Safety

Parents were not even arrested after their adopted son was found dead home with heavy injuries; months later, police revealed chilling details and nothing was the same anymore

A 5-year-old boy tragically lost his life earlier this year due to severe physical abuse. A doctor examining his body later described his injuries as “diagnostic of torture.”

Based on the findings presented in criminal complaints filed in a court, investigators believe that repeated assaults caused Landon’s brain to shift significantly within his skull. These assaults led to considerable pain, rendering the child unable to eat, drink, or stand towards the end of his life.

Both adoptive parents, Lauren and Jacob M., face multiple charges including criminal homicide, child endangerment, aggravated child assault, and criminal conspiracy, as confirmed by a joint statement from the District Attorney’s office and the police department. Furthermore, Lauren M. is charged with first-degree murder. The couple was arrested on Thursday, subsequent to investigations that began in January.

Police Chief T.J. Klobucar expressed his disbelief, noting that the department had never encountered such a case in his 25 years of service. Both parents are currently detained in the county prison without bail. They have yet to enter pleas, and no legal representation is listed for them.

In an interview, one of Landon’s siblings, identified as K.D., disclosed that Landon was often made to sleep on the floor and was under constant camera surveillance by his parents. Additionally, the child revealed that out of the six children, only Landon was consistently punished physically. The parents also frequently communicated their negative sentiments about Landon in text messages. Lauren M. had reportedly expressed her severe dissatisfaction with Landon to coworkers and even restricted Landon’s biological grandmother from visiting due to jealousy.

Landon showed clear symptoms of illness towards the end of January. However, Lauren M. allegedly delayed seeking medical attention. Before heading to the hospital, Landon’s parents washed off the vomit from his unconscious body, according to the criminal complaints. When she eventually took him to the hospital on January 30, she identified him by his pre-adoption name. During the hospital visit, she expressed concerns about being held responsible for Landon’s condition and attributed his state to complications from COVID.

On examination, medical professionals identified numerous bruises covering Landon’s body,” including one in the shape of fingers grabbing Landon by the armpit. They also noted “significant, severe bruising” all over his body and a cut by his left eye. Landon showed no brain activity the following day.

Subsequent investigations revealed evidence of the incident at the couple’s residence. Investigators found children’s and adult clothes as well as towels “damp with vomit” in the home Landon, unfortunately, passed away on February 7, roughly a week after the hospital admission. The cause of death was identified as blunt force trauma, ruling it a homicide.

In the wake of the incident, the couple initiated a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds, which was later taken down after raising approximately $5,200. GoFundMe affirmed its commitment to cooperating with law enforcement and facilitating refunds to donors. The district attorney’s office is also probing the GoFundMe campaign.

Concluding a press conference, District Attorney Nicole expressed her determination to ensure justice for Landon, labeling his death as both “disturbing” and “tragic.”

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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