Mom of boy allegedly killed by boyfriend: 'He destroyed my family'
LANCASTER, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Adrianna Brown can't seem to piece together what happened Wednesday morning when her 2-year-old son's body was picked up on the side of a dirt road, wrapped in a sheet, in the arms of her 26-year-old boyfriend Mathew Berry.
Berry had asked to take the boy to get ice cream and a pair of new shoes.
"I said, 'Oh OK, just drop him off after that, I'll meet you. I'll meet you at the One-Stop,' which is the gas station in Cal City. I go there, I got gas, I wait, I wait, I wait; no show," described Brown.
That same gas station is where the bus met first responders after Berry told the driver the child was having medical complications. Berry was lying along the road, spotted by the bus' driver, cradling a small bundle. The small bundle was the toddler, Pharaoh Van Vactor, wrapped in a white sheet. Witnesses said the boy was not breathing when he was brought onto the bus.
Brown was at that gas station when the bus came rushing in, but she didn't pay much attention to the commotion. She was too focused on getting into contact with Berry, who hadn't been returning her calls.
"I trusted him, my baby trusted him. He destroyed my family. He took a life that everybody enjoyed and loved," Brown said Friday in Lancaster.
Pharaoh was pronounced dead in the gas station's parking lot. Berry is facing charges of first-degree murder and assault on a child causing death.
"I still see him, but I can't hold him, but I can't touch him, and these are the things that this man took from us," said Pharaoh's grandmother Carol Roberson.
She said she has so many unanswered questions after the autopsy revealed the 2-year-old died of blunt-force trauma.
"It hurts so bad. It's like a hole that's in your heart, and it can't be refilled," said Roberson.
Rick Van Vactor is the boy's father and shares custody with Brown.
"Last time I saw my baby was Sunday morning at 4:30 in the morning The coroner called me (Thursday) and told me that my son was beaten, beaten to death," said Van Vactor via telephone.
Van Vactor has a voice mail message saved in which you can hear Berry tell him he will take care of his son, Pharaoh: "He's safe with me, bro. I promise you that. I won't let nothing happen to your boy, man."
And in another saved voice mail, the toddler's grandmother holds onto what she calls her most precious possession, little Pharaoh's voice. A message she said she plans to have forever.
The family has set up a fund to pay for funeral arrangements. You can donate online.