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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Toddler’s death declared a homicide

Medical examiner says boy died of blunt force

The death of a toddler last week has been ruled a homicide.

Rylee J. Castner, an 18-month-old boy, died March 31 of blunt force trauma to the head, according to the Spokane County medical examiner.

Police have not made an arrest in the killing.

The boy suffered a partial skull fracture and bleeding in his brain, according to the release.

Castner’s grandmother was holding the boy on March 30 and noticed he was lethargic and bleeding from his mouth, according to court records. An ambulance took him to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where a police officer observed bruising under both of the child’s cheeks.

“The bruising appeared to be finger marks,” court documents said.

The boy also had a large bruise on his foot and an indentation on the left side of his head. He underwent surgery soon after his arrival at the hospital and died the next day.

The child had been sick for several days and was on a prescription antibiotic, and the family had been at a barbecue earlier in the day, according to records.

“At this point in the investigation, there have been several individuals that have cared for this child and it is unknown who caused the head injury,” the documents, filed April 1, said.

Police seized crib sheets, pajamas, blankets and other items from a home at 2104 W. Mansfield Court.

Spokeswoman Monique Cotton said police officers have gone to the home 10 times since 2008, responding to calls for domestic violence, loud arguments, suspicious people and prowling. The most recent call, on March 4, was for someone violating a protection order. It is unclear how long the boy or his immediate family members were living at the residence, Cotton said.

Thomas Shapley, a spokesman for the Department of Social and Health Services, said his agency does not have a history with that family but is aware of another child, a sibling of Castner’s, living in the same home.

“We’re still investigating with law enforcement,” Shapley said. The sibling has not been removed from the home.

A neighbor said she has called police several times and documented people coming and going at the house at all hours of the night.

She said up to 10 people have been living in the two-bedroom house.

According to the court documents, the baby’s father is no longer involved with the mother. The mother has a boyfriend who doesn’t live at the home, but he stays there often.

The property is owned by Bruce Hafferkamp, of Spokane. He did not return a call Monday night, but his wife said the baby’s grandmother had lived in that home for several years.

A man who answered the door at the West Mansfield residence said only that the family was full of “sadness and anger.”

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