Dontel Jeffers
- March 6, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial
During his short life, Dontel Jeffers lived in nine different homes. His first home was a homeless shelter where he spent the very first, few months of his life. Dontel's parents had separated before he was born and the beginning of his life with his mother was in the shelter.

Elary Rohan Jeffer's is the biological father of Dontel. Elary's life was filled with a history of criminal behavior and at first he didn't want to be a father to Dontel. Eventually, his love for his son would win out and he would do his best to provide a good, stable life for his son.

Elary. who immigrated from the Caribbean, was deep into drugs, drug trafficking and had many run-ins with the law. He had solicited a prostitute and was a construction laborer who attracted many women. One day in the summer of 2000, there was a knock at Elary's door. A neighbor was telling him that there was a child outside his door. Elary looked down and saw a baby in a car seat had been left in the hall and he knew instantly that this was his son and that he had been left there by his mother. Dontel was only four months old.

Elary began to change his life from that point on. Dontel was well  cared for by his father who dressed him well and even volunteered at the day care center he took Dontel to. At times, Elary was the only man at a homeless shelter that took in single parents:

''He took care of his child better than many women here" 
Fannie Stewart-Gibbons

Elary was a proud father and in August of 2002 he was shocked when Christal Claiborne, Dontel's biological mother, took him to court to try to get custody of him. A family court judge ruled that Dontel was going to stay with his father. Eventually, Elary would be in trouble with the law, once again. In December of 2003, Elary got into an argument with his girlfriend. At the police station, Danielle Walton would tell them that Elary had pushed her against the wall and had beaten her at least one other time, she told them she was in fear for her life. At the same time, she said he had never been abusive in any way at all towards Dontel:

"That's how it was. He was abusive, but he took care of his son"
Danielle Walton

Elary denied that he had ever put his hands on his girlfriend in a any kind of violent way. The girlfriend would regret filing the police report which would bring out information showing that Elary had an order for deportation that stemmed from a drug conviction in the early  90's. On May 12, 2004, Elary was going to court with hopes that he could clear up the domestic violence charge against him. Dontel had asked his father:

''Daddy, can I come with you?"

Elary told him that he could not and that he would be right back. Sadly, Elary was placed in jail and was held over night while his papers for deportation were processed. Dontel would never see his father  again.

Dontel would become the center of a battle for custody. His mother and his paternal grandmother, Agatha Jeffers, both wanted custody of him with his mother saying she should be his caretaker and his grandmother saying that Christal had abandoned him and was not a fit mother. The judges ruled that Dontel should be with his mother. This would turn out to be a big mistake.

The Department of Social Services was receiving complaints about Christal neglecting Dontel and his half sister, Ayanna and that she was using Cocaine. One month after Elary, the only REAL parent Dontel had ever known, was deported, social workers took the two children away from Christal and placed them in foster care. This would prove to be another big mistake. 

By late February of 2005, Dontel had spent a few months in a residential evaluation center and was place in the home of Corinne N. Stephan. Corinne was a foster mother who had cared for adolescents and teenagers in her home in the past and had a two year old son of her own. Dontel would only spend 11 days in the home of Corrine
before he would be beaten to death.

On March 5, 2005, Dontel was taken to Carney Hospital after his foster mother claimed that she found him unresponsive and called 911. With a body temperature of only 94.1, it was determined that he had most likely been dead for several hours. It was also found  that Dontel had died of heart failure. 

Dontel's family went to the medical examiners office and said that they wanted to see his body:

"Seeing a lot of bruises on Dontel's face, and his face was swollen with a lot of different bruises 
on the face. I seen a lot of bruises, and that is what I seen" 
Dontel's uncle - Vincent James

A preliminary examination was completed by the state Medical Examiners office. David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorneys office said that police were treating the death as suspicious and that test results would tell them if Dontel's death was a homicide or an accident. 

Corrine claimed that Dontel was jumping on the bed and had fallen and hit his head on a radiator. Dontel's family believed that the bruises they saw on his face, were a sign that he had been beaten to death in his foster home.

Police obtained a search warrant and went looking for evidence of the abuse that Dontel had suffered. The Boston Herald had reported, through anonymous sources, that Dontel had been tied up and was beaten to death. An autopsy would reveal the truth of what had happened in that home. Family members were understandably upset about the circumstances of the death and different stories being told about what happened:

"They are giving us conflicting stories, and we, the family members, don't buy that" 
Vincent James

Corinne's story of Dontel jumping on the bed didn't seem to match up with anything they were told and the fact that Dontel was not taken to the hospital immediately, made them suspicious:

"They didn't take him to the hospital same time he fall. Take him up, get him to the hospital. 
They did not do nothing. They wait until another day" 
Agatha Jeffers - Dontel's grandmother

Family members had been trying, with no success, to get custody of Dontel:

"He was very energetic and happy, cheerful, you know, and he always liked to play with other 
kids and be around kids" 
Phillipa Jeffers - a family member

"We are the family for Dontel, and DSS took Dontel and sent him to a person that he doesn't 
know, no family members there. They just separated us totally. It's devastating to us"
Phillipa Jeffers - Dontel's aunt

"They sent him to a foster home, and now we get a phone call today that he's dead" 
Vincent James

Relatives had been visiting with Dontel up until the time he was put into the foster home. The family was informed that Dontel was placed into a foster home, though they were not given the address to where he had been placed.

DSS Commissioner Harry Spence announced that he was going to do a full investigation of the case and events that lead up to the death of Dontel Jeffers:

"Our condolences go out to the family. Our apologies and regrets for whatever part we come 
to learn we played in that. Even if none, our deep apologies go out" 
DSS Commissioner Harry Spence

"As we understand it, the child's heart had stopped. That was the immediate cause of death. 
I think one of the questions that now lies behind that is what led to that heart failure"
Harry Spence

Harry Spence confirmed that the Dontel had bruises on his body.

Corrine M. Stephan was arrested four months later and charged with second degree murder for the death of Dontel Jeffers. At her arraignment, District Attorney David Deakin spoke of how doctors at Caritas Carney Hospital had tried for at least 45 minutes to revive Dontel and were not able to do so. David said that during an 11 day time span, Dontel had been beaten by Corrine and that eventually the beating had killed him

David also said that during the time after they had driven Corrine and Dontel to the hospital and returned home, Corrine's family and boyfriend might have tried to get rid of evidence as police knocked on the door and were ignored by the people inside of her apartment. For three hours the police knocked while a female cousin and Corrine's boyfriend were allegedly busy cleaning up the evidence of what had happened to Dontel.

A search warrant was issued and when the police finally entered the apartment, they found a bucket of dirty mop water and a ten foot telephone cord which had been put into a garbage bag. Neither of the two suspected of cleaning up were identified by police. 

Judge R. Peter Andersonail set bail at $100,000. for Corrine who had no previous criminal record as she, with a jacket covering her face, plead not guilty to the charges against her. After the hearing, Carl N. Donaldson, Corrine's lawyer, said in a phone interview that she was innocent of the charges and that Dontel had been alive when he reached the hospital:

''All of the allegations of beatings are categorically untrue. The child was not dead when the child was taken to the hospital. We question that, significantly question, that the child was dead when the child was taken and delivered to the hospital"
Carl N. Donaldson

Carl Donaldson also stated that he could not confirm that anyone had been inside the apartment or cleaned it up before the police were allowed inside.

David Deakin gave details of what the Department Of Social Services said was a horrible case of abuse. At least 20 family members were in the courtroom and often cried during the proceedings. Agatha Jeffers had to be helped out of the courtroom twice because she was crying so hard.

David told how the Medical Examiner had said Dontel was dead at least three hours before being brought in, based on the temperature of his body and reports from hospital employees who said that his body had been cold when they touched it. David pointed out that Corrine had given three different stories about how the injuries had
occurred on Dontel's body.

Doctors had found Dontel's hands were swollen since they had been tied together and Dontel had a bruised left eye as well as scratches on his face and back. Also present were bruises on his arms as well as his shoulders. During the hearing, it was announced that Dontel had died as a result of two internal injuries which could not be discussed due to the ongoing investigation.

For the first time a motive was alleged for the beating death of this little boy. It was said that Corrine thought that Dontel was going to do damage to some of the belongings and that she thought he was too rough with her two year old son. Carl Donaldson said that Corrine was not a killer and added the she and her family were devastated by the death of Dontel offering their condolences to the family:

''They are extremely sorrowful. They took this child their family as one of their own, and they 
lost a life as well. It's a very, very sad ending to a life"

Well, Carl, you are right about that, it IS a very sad ending to a life. You're wrong when you say they are sorry. How does a person tie up a child and then beat him to death and then try to convince people they are sorry for doing it? It's more likely they are only sorry they got caught!

Carl argued that Corrine should get lower bail because she had stayed in Boston knowing that she was under investigation:

''She doesn't have anything to run from because she is innocent. She has an impeccable 
record. Any parent would love to have her as a daughter"

Any parent? Not me! I'm a parent and I wouldn't love to have her as a daughter at all.

Christal Claiborne was in court with the father of her two month old son, the day before Corrine's hearing. Anthony R. Ellison, Christal's lawyer had suggested she not answer any questions and she didn't. Christal and the Jeffers family were fighting over the rights to Dontel's estate which would entitle them to any money won over a wrongful death suit. How disgusting that this woman didn't care enough about her son to clean up and raise him properly and now she wants to profit from his death. I think any and ALL money should go to Elary Jeffer's, the one who cared for and loved Dontel the most.

''She misses her child dearly. She does not wish any ill will towards Stephen but supports the
investigation into his death"

Anthony R. Ellison

Agatha Jeffers had been fighting DSS to get custody of Dontel and she refused to talk to reporters at the hearing. Shawn P. O'Rourke said that the description of the abuse Dontel suffered in his last days had been overwhelming for his family:

''Dontel was a bright, happy boy who loved his family and was loved deeply by"

Corrine Stephen was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the beating death of Dontel Jeffers. After two days of deliberations, a jury found her guilty, though not of second degree murder since they could find no evidence that Dontel had been abused prior to the day he had died and she had failed to seek medical attention for him though she knew he was in a lot of pain and had given him a massive does of Tylenol with Codeine.

Corrine was emotionless as the verdict was read though Agatha Jeffers and other family members shook their heads in disbelief and talked quietly to each other. Judge Margaret Kinkle revoked bail and Corrine was taken into custody. Her sentencing hearing was set for December and her lawyer said he would appeal.

After the verdict, prosecutors stated that Corrine had either given the wounds to Dontel herself or allowed someone else to do it and she made a choice not to get him the medical treatment he needed in order to save his life. Daniel F. Conley, the District Attorney said that involuntary manslaughter convictions carry a possible sentence of up to 20 years adding that it was too early to know what her sentence would be:

"The conduct by the defendant was egregious, and our recommendation will reflect the nature of "

Also stated was the fact that while there was no direct evidence to show that Corrine had beaten Dontel herself, there was a lot of circumstantial evidence:

"She was very evasive during the nine days that Dontel was in her care, refusing to let people 
who had previously cared for him into her house to see the boy. Corinne had long fingernails, 
and the evidence shows that Dontel's face was gouged by what were likely fingernails. And 
when the police went to her house after Dontel was dead, several people inside the house 
denied them entry, and when authorities did go in with the defendant, the house had 
been cleaned with bleach"

In another DISGUSTING miscarriage of justice, in December of 2007, Corrine Stephen was sentenced to ONLY eight years in prison for what she put Dontel through. Something is SERIOUSLY wrong in this world when people can torture and kill innocent children and get away with it.

Dontel was laid to rest in the Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park on March 17, 2005. Some mourners wore shirts with his picture on them.

At the funeral for Dontel, Reverend William Dickerson stood before his wooden coffin and said:

 ''This is not a time to point fingers"

William tried to encourage everyone to remember Dontel and his smile as well as his energy stating that Dontel was in his final home, with the lord:

''Dontel made it from earth to glory. Why do I know it? Because he's in the hands of a just God"

Christal Claiborne, who was pregnant again when she attended the funeral for her son, put her hand on her belly as she walked up to Dontel's coffin. Dontel wore a white suit, white knit cap and was also wearing a turquoise cross shaped pin. Elary's family was also there and their attempts to delay the funeral until he could be there, were not successful. 

William Dickerson had asked the families to come together for the funeral. William had also asked the crowd of mourners not to blame Dontel's family for his death:

''They are the parents of Dontel Jeffers . They need your love. They need your support. They 
don't need  your judgment"

William spoke directly to Christal:

''Christal, you have other children, a child here and a child on the way. Pour your love into them. 
Tell them about their brother. You don't have to look back, or look down. All you have 
to do is look forward, because God has got your back"

William let the mourners know that DSS Commissioner Harry Spence was joining them and sat in a pew at the church. This seemed to startle some of the mourners as they turned their heads to see where he was sitting:

''I told them to come. This is God's house. And I wanted them to be here because they needed to be
here to understand the sentiment of this church and the pain
of this family"

William went on to say that if the autopsy found that Dontel had been beaten to death, DSS should be held responsible:

''DSS needs to be challenged to change some of its policies as they relate to the placement 
of children in foster care. If there are perpetrators, the perpetrators need to be dealt with to 
the full extent of the law"

William also spoke to the  Department of Social Services asking them to come up with answers for the family.

"The main thing that was done means somebody actually took Dontel's life. And the perpetrator
should be punished to the full extent, and DSS should rework its policies in reference of placement 
of children"

The mourners began to applaud and shout "Amen".

"He was a very joyful, vivacious young man, full of life, vibrant and spry. The love he shared with 
us, I told (the mourners) to share it with one another" 
William Dickerson

Harry Spence stood outside of the church with family members and friends crying all around him and said that he felt partly responsible for Dontel's death and that this was a hard lesson for him:

''We are constantly trying to figure out what are the ways we can reduce the harm to any child. 
So it is obviously always harder for us when it is one of our own who is suspected of 
doing the harm. Next time maybe we can get there earlier. Maybe we can prevent someone 
intent on doing the child harm from actually doing the harm"

Questions still remained after Dontel was buried. Donte's family wanted to know the truth behind what had happened to him. Family members had heard reports that the foster family he had been placed with had complaints of domestic violence even before he had been placed with them:

"What we want to find out from DSS is if he had any bruises on his body before he went 
into a foster home. We went to know why DSS put kids into a home with domestic issues" 
Vincent James 

Agatha Jeffers said that the last time she had seen her grandson was a week before he was sent to live in the foster home and at that time, he didn't have any bruises on his body

"He was in good condition"
Agatha Jeffers

Governor Mitt Romney even admitted that the system had failed to protect Dontel:

"What is overwhelming is the sense of sadness and the sense of having let down a child. 
Whenever the state intervenes in the case of child, it is to hopefully make the condition 
better, not worse, and that certainly did not 
happen here"

A plant, a balloon, and some stones were all that marked the grave of Dontel Jeffers at Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park on what would have been his fifth birthday.    (Globe Staff Photo / Evan Richman) 

After one life turns around, another is lost
By Patricia Wen, Globe Staff - July 4, 2005

Carrying a balloon and a potted plant, a young woman approached the small concrete slab that covered the burial plot of 4-year-old Dontel Jeffers.

''This is it?" said Danielle Walton, 21, at the Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park on an April day. ''He doesn't even have a headstone?!"

Walton is a former girlfriend of the boy's father. On this day, which would have been the boy's fifth birthday, she tied the helium balloon to a rock and placed the plant beside it. They were the only markers for the boy's grave.

Dontel died March 6 in a Dorchester foster home, a place he ended up after a series of decisions about his care that were triggered, inadvertently, by Walton.

Like so many who cared for the boy, Walton that day was full of second-guessing about her role in his short life.

Looking into the dirt where Dontel was buried, she said quietly, ''I'm sorry, Dontel. I'm sorry."

Part of an article found here:  Boston.com
By Patricia Wen - Globe Staff - July 4, 2005


UPDATE: July 2, 2016 - Thank you to "Anonymous" for sending me this update.

I normally would not add an update such as this without a person giving me their name, however, I feel if this is true, then people need to know.

"The woman who murdered Dontel Jeffers is being allowed to participate in a work release program at a local Panera Bread restaurant. She is allowed to leave prison for 50 hours a week to work there. I am not leaving my name or contact info because "deleted by site creator". If you have any contact with his family please let them know, she should not have that privilege. Only 8 years in prison and 50 hours of each week she spends in the outside world with coworkers under 18 and customers with children"

Death Occurred in Sweden

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