Vernon Henry Charged With First-Degree Murder of Toddler


Vernon Henry, 26, has been accused of violently taking the life of of 20-month-old Adonta McCoy.  Henry has been charged with the first-degree murder of the toddler and held without bond.

Adonta McCoy’s mother left him in the care of Henry at approximately  9 a.m. Thursday morning.  Henry lived with the mother of the toddler and exhibited questionable tactics when dealing with Adonta.  It has been reported that the live-in boyfriend consistently referred to the child as a “cry-baby.”  This particular morning, Adonta began to cry, increasing Henry’s agitation.  Assistant State’s Attorney Jacqueline Kwilos said that the child was shaken very violently.  The child was so severely shaken his head snapped back and fourth slamming his jaws open and closed.

The toddler was unable to stop crying and it was at this point that Henry began to choke the child.  As the child’s airways were blocked and he fought for air, Henry then threw him face-first into a dresser.  Kwilos said it was at this point that Adonta could not keep his eyes open, he was lethargic, and had severe head and eye injuries.  Prosecutors claim Henry wiped the bloody saliva off Adonta’s mouth and put him to bed.

Once the mother returned home, Henry displayed panic.  He told Adonta’s mother that the toddler had fallen after a bath but was okay.  She then looked in on Adonta while he was in bed and assumed he was sleeping.  After several hours Adonta’s mother was startled by very heavy breathing and could not wake the child.    The mother then called 911, and Henry instructed her to say “the boy fell and struck his head after a bath.”

Authorities arrived to find the child in critical condition and he was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital.  Upon first arrival, it was reported that the toddler endured burns to the head, face, and chest.  These reports have not been further addressed.  Adonta was suffering from multiple abrasions, hemorrhaging, and severe brain injuries due to lack of oxygen.  Adonta was on life support for two days and died Saturday afternoon.  Henry confessed to the actions that led to him being charged with first-degree murder.  Further details have not been released regarding Henry’s criminal history.  The severity and savagery of the crime will weigh heavily with regard to sentencing and conviction.  Assistant State’s Attorney Jacqueline Kwilos has expressed that Henry “wanted to toughen up the boy.”

Police released the toddler’s mother and did not pursue pressing charges against her at this time.  There are no other children who live in the home that young Adonta occupied.  The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services launched an investigation on the mother of Adonta McCoy.  Child welfare has said that they have had no prior contact with this family prior to this incident.

By Ebony Waller



Chicago Tribune

Chicago Sun Times

Homicide Sun Times