4-Year-Old Tortured Before Death Endured Nomadic Life Filled With Abuse
MIDTOWN — His short life was doomed from the start.
Long before little Myls Dobson’s unconscious body was found bruised and burned in a Midtown high-rise, he was living a nightmare childhood — being raised by parents whose abuse of him, as well as their own criminal pasts, ultimately placed him in the hands of his suspected killer.
The 4-year-old’s father, Okee Wade, had a violent history — including arrests for rape and convictions for attempted robbery and assault — while the boy’s mother, Ashlee Marie Dobson, was caught abusing him in both South Carolina and New York City. Dobson, who also went by the name Ashley Dobson, ultimately lost custody of him in 2011, according to police and court documents.
Yet the city's Administration for Children’s Services opted to leave Myls with his dad, only monitoring him for a year before closing his case in late 2012, just months before Okee Wade was arrested yet again — this time, on charges of stealing from bank accounts in Atlantic City, according to sources and court documents.
Wade kept Myls until Dec. 18, 2013, when he knew he was about to be arrested for skipping out on a court appearance. He left the boy with his new lover, Kryzie King, 27, a transgender performer who lived in a $3,200-a-month Midtown apartment, sources said.
With his father behind bars, the little boy spent the last few weeks of his life slipping between the cracks, isolated and unmonitored as his father's new girlfriend starved him, beat him with belts and hangers, and locked him alone in the bathroom for long stretches, sources said.
Myls was found unconscious in King's apartment bathtub late Wednesday morning and died later at Roosevelt Hospital. He was covered in cigarette burns and lacerations on his arms, legs and genitals, police said.
King, who also went by the name Janaie Jones, admitted abusing the boy in an attempt to discipline him, source said. She was charged with assault and reckless endangerment on Thursday night.
"This is a tragic, tragic death of that young boy. Horrific injuries sustained over a period of days," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
As news trickled out of the boy's horrifying death, Myls' heartbroken relatives agonized over what went wrong.
"I don't understand,” said Myls’ paternal grandmother, Gloria Wade, who lives in South Carolina. “As much family as he had up there, I don't understand why he wasn't left with them. He's got a sister, uncles, cousins. It's like a dream. I just can't grab it. It's like a nightmare."
Friends and family described Myls as a sweet-natured child whose big almond-brown eyes and wide grin could brighten a room.
“He was just a quiet boy. Put a record on and he would dance,” said Alberta Davis, 83, a retired child-care worker whose son Virgil dates Myls’ maternal grandmother. “He wasn’t bad. He was full of fun.”
Myls was born in 2009. From a young age he was passed between relatives, spending months at a time in homes across New York and South Carolina.
When Myls was 16 months old, he lived with his aunt Orquidia Wade and her husband Josiah Cassar in their Fort Greene apartment while his father lived in an apartment in the Marcy Houses.
“He was a nice kid, really energetic,” said Cassar. “He jumped on everything, ran everywhere and touched everything. He was smart too. Very intelligent.”
When Myls turned 2, he went to live with his mom in Walterboro, S.C., where her family lived, relatives said.
Just a few months into the move, Ashlee Dobson was arrested for abusing Myls after an emergency room nurse at a Walterboro hospital spotted lacerations on the boy and called the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, according to an April 8, 2011, police reported.
She told a sheriff that the injuries happened when she was in the parking lot of a town supermarket and Myls ran into traffic. She claimed that when she grabbed her son, she scratched him and then fell on top of him, the report says.
“Then when they got up, she stated that she slapped the child with a closed fist on his face because she was mad,” the officer wrote in his report.
Dobson revealed Myls had suffered even more later that day, saying the boy hit his head when he fell down a stairway at a friend’s house, and then fell asleep, according to the report. Dobson said she didn't take the child to the hospital because she was scared. The boy only got help because her mother, Faith Bennett, spotted the bruises and took him to the ER, the report said.
“The suspect admitted that sometimes she just snaps and gets angry, but she does not mean to hurt the child,” the officer wrote.
After Dobson was arrested, Bennett was given temporary custody of her grandson, according to the report. Dobson was told she could only have supervised visits until her case was adjudicated.
Court records show the case was dismissed in July 2011 after the county solicitor noted that Dobson was in treatment and the South Carolina's Department of Social Services was involved. Bennett could not be reached for comment.
But by August 2011, Dobson and Myls were reunited and again living in New York City, relatives said. Dobson continued her abusive behavior against the boy, according to Wade’s sister.
“She would punch him and she would slap him. She’s not a person to have children,” Orquidia Wade said.
At the end of August 2011, ACS workers accused Dobson of child neglect and petitioned a family court judge to remove Myls from her custody, a court source said.
Surprisingly, ACS officials and a law guardian representing the boy recommended a family court judge award custody of Myls to his father — despite the fact that he had been in and out of prison for the past decade, sources said.
In 2000 he was arrested as part of a crew that stole money and a bracelet from a woman they punched and shoved to the ground, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to harassment and received probation.
A year later Wade, then 24, was arrested for rape and a string of sexual assault charges after his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend accused him of attacking her in a Brooklyn apartment.
He pleaded guilty to attempted assault and got five years probation. That same year, he was slapped with a disorderly conduct charge for marijuana possession.
In 2002 Brooklyn cops again busted Wade — this time for pulling a gun on a group of men and demanding cash. He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, and a judge sentenced him to three-and-half years in prison.
Despite the long rap sheet, Wade got custody of Myls in September 2011, according to a source. The custody came with conditions — ACS supervised him for a year.
The monitoring ended in September 2012 because Wade did nothing wrong during the oversight period, according to a source. But his run-ins with the law soon resumed.
In early 2013, he and his sister Orquidia were arrested for being part of a 23-person bank fraud ring that stole more than $250,000 from JPMorgan Chase accounts, according to the indictment.
Wade was released from jail in February 2013. When he failed to show up for an Aug. 22 preliminary hearing, an Atlantic County Superior Court judge issued a warrant for his arrest, records show.
Police picked him up in the Marcy Houses on Dec. 19 and extradited him to New Jersey, where he remains behind bars. Authorities said he was notified of his son’s death Wednesday night.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to discuss Myls’ case in detail, but said his appointees were “working to make ACS stronger, all the time.”
The toddler’s death drew comparisons to another city tragedy — 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown. The Brooklyn girl’s stepfather beat her to death in 2006 after ACS workers failed to heed warnings that she was being abused.
The mayor said it was "very hard to compare these tragedies," adding that "there are a lot of complexities in [Myls'] case."
De Blasio added that there were clear signs of abuse in the death of Nixzmary, but said "I don't know if there was anything like that in this case. That one was so tragic, with so many opportunities that were lost to save her."
"After that tragedy, profound changes were made, changes that last to this day. It is never-ending work."
Additional reporting by Gustavo Solis, Jeff Mays, Ben Fractenberg, Colby Hamilton, Aidan Gardiner, Nicole Bode and Trevor Kapp.