Michigan Child Dies of Abuse in Tennessee

October 28, 2014 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Medical Examiner Says Abuse Was Extreme

When Michigan couple Tyler Arndt and Brianna Kwekel parted ways, she moved to Tennessee and took their little son, Dakota, with her. According to Arndt, they had only stayed together for their son, and during that time, he had regularly questioned Kwekel’s judgment as a parent. When she took their son across the country with her, Arndt says he called countless attorneys trying to stop her from taking his son away. But due to lack of funds, there was nothing he could do to stop it.

Almost a year goes by, and in the last nine months, Arndt only sees his son once. Then one day he receives a call that his 3-year-old son is in the hospital, and he leaves Michigan instantly. But upon arrival at Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga, he discovers that Dakota is brain dead, hooked up to life support. He died shortly thereafter.

Dakota was beaten to death by his mother’s new boyfriend, Justin Bradley, who was arrested and charged with the child’s death. After his conviction and sentencing, Arndt assumed that the story of his son’s life was a closed book. But a recent release of the medical examiner’s autopsy report shows that there was more to the story than he ever realized.

Deborah Lowen, director of the Center for Child Protection & Well-being at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine was asked to review the 14 page autopsy report. “He died a horrible death,” she said, claiming that it was by far one of the worst autopsy reports she had seen in a while.

While the cause of death is listed as blunt force trauma to the head, Dakota was apparently so badly beaten that it was difficult to determine the age of some of his injuries. His entire body was riddled with contusions and hemorrhages, bruises and scratches. One of his lungs had collapsed.

“If I had known this would happen, and so quickly after him leaving home, I would have never let the boy out of my sight. I would have done anything to save him.” Arndt said. He is also struggling with his ex-girlfriend’s role in the situation. He wonders if she knew, and if so, why she chose not to intervene.

Kwekel, who has since moved back to Michigan, is not facing any charges for the death of her son. She is pregnant with Bradley’s child and apparently several of her family members are very concerned for the safety of her unborn child.

Marion Hutchinson, Arndt’s mother who accompanied him to Tennessee when Dakota was hospitalized, says that in the hospital room Kwekel admitted to the fact that Dakota had been badly bruised before. Court records show that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services also investigated an incident in which Dakota was hospitalized with swollen testicals just ten weeks before he died. Kwekel is refusing to answer any questions about whether or not she knew about the abuse, and whether or not she participated in any way.