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6-Year-Old Harlem Boy Endured Months of Brutal Abuse Before Death, DA Says

By  Ben Fractenberg Dartunorro Clark and Jeff Mays | September 29, 2016 4:27pm 

 Geraldine Perkins, 26, rightm and her boyfriend Rysheim Smith, 42, were charged in connection with the death of her son Zymere Perkins, 6, left.
Geraldine Perkins, 26, rightm and her boyfriend Rysheim Smith, 42, were charged in connection with the death of her son Zymere Perkins, 6, left.
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HARLEM — The death of a 6-year-old Harlem boy found unconscious in his home this week was the result of months of brutal abuse and beatings by his mother’s boyfriend, prosecutors said Thursday.
Zymere Perkins' mother Geraldine Perkins, who was charged in connection to his death along with her boyfriend boyfriend Rysheim Smith, told investigators that she saw Smith beat her son in their West 135th Street apartment multiple times, prosecutors said.  
Perkins told officials that since she and her son moved in with Smith in June, she'd seen him hit the boy with closed fists, open hands, broomsticks and other objects, and had also seen him grab the boy by his neck.

An autopsy revealed that Zymere had multiple bruises on his torso, bruises and finger marks on his neck, multiple fractured ribs that had healed and other injuries, including a contusion to his head, according to the city's Medical Examiner.

Officials have said that the city's ACS had investigated Perkins five times for abuse and had substantiated allegations of abuse, but allowed her to keep the child.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, speaking Thursday after a police graduation in College Point, Queens, said ACS, the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office met with Perkins earlier this year after Zymere went to school and complained of leg pain on April 19.

The nurse referred the case to child protective services and Zymere was examined at the Child Advocacy Center in Manhattan, officials said.

Both Perkins and Zymere were questioned by four different agencies: ACS, the NYPD, the District Attorney’s Office of New York and social work organization Safe Horizons, he said.

“They determined during that time that there was not substantial injury to the child at all and they returned the child to the mother," said Boyce.

"This is under our investigation as well as we go forward into this case. So right then and there the child was given back to the mother after that."

Perkins was neither arrested or charged at the time.

When investigators went into Smith's 135th Street apartment after Zymere's death, they found it had no electricity, rotting food in the refrigerator, large amounts of mold, rust and mildew in the bathroom and was infested with cockroaches, officials said.
The city Department of Investigation has opened a case investigating the Administration of Children’s Services to determine if any lapses had occurred regarding this case and others.
ACS told DNAinfo New York that it could not disclose whether it had any contact with the family prior to Zymere’s death, but that it has also opened an investigation into Zymere’s death.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Public Advocate Letitia James have both said that the ACS failed Zymere. The state will also investigate the boy's death, Cuomo said Thursday.

"My heart goes out for the pain that this little boy suffered. It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy. There’s nothing else to say," said Cuomo.

James said ACS has often missed or failed to act upon the warning signs of abuse. Her office issued a scathing report last month citing several examples of child deaths where ACS failed "to protect vulnerable children living in abusive and neglectful homes."

Prosecutors said Smith violently hit Zymere the day he died.

Zymere had defecated in the living room of the apartment, which made Smith so angry that he began hitting the boy with his hands and a wooden broomstick.

Perkins told authorities she saw Zymere “go limp,” but Smith continued to hit the 6-year-old.
Smith then carried Zymere to the bathroom, where he hung him on the back of the door by his shirt before leaving the apartment, Perkins told prosecutors.
Perkins told authorities she took Zymere down from the door, placed the unconscious child on the bed and went to rest and read the Bible. When she went to check on the child later in the afternoon and tried to wake him, Perkins said Zymere wouldn't wake up.
Perkins dressed Zymere and carried him to the street where she hailed a taxi and took him to St. Luke’s Hospital. The boy was was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Perkins and Smith were charged with endangering the welfare of a child and held on $50,000 bail. Lawyers for the pair did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has condemned Zymere's death as "unacceptable."

"I find it incredibly troubling. And I find it unacceptable that this child was lost, period," de Blasio said Wednesday.

"I’m not going to judge or comment the specific facts until there’s a full investigation. But I’ll say if we find anything that was done wrong, we’re going to fix it immediately because this is unacceptable."