Evan Johnathan Dudley
January 25, 2011 - November 7, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial

The death certificate for Evan Johnathan Dudley states that he died of blunt force trauma to his head, a victim of homicide. At the age of only 21 months old, Evan died of injuries his caregivers and Godparents, Staff Sgt. Justin Corbett and his wife, Aubrey, say he got after falling down a flight of stairs, the stairs had carpet on them. Aubrey had been out running errands when Even got hurt, but said that Justin told her Even had fallen down the stairs. Evan had so many hemorrhages in both of his eyes that doctors were not able to count them, Evan's right retina was totally detached from his eye, Evan had swelling and bleeding on his brain along with bruised lungs and the doctor said that his injuries were so bad that he compared them to a  fall straight down from an eight story building, Doctors said that this was a serious case of child abuse. With Doctors saying this was homicide, why is it that over a year later, no arrest has been made in this case, the process of getting justice for this little boy has not even begun?

For the first time since giving birth to her son, Nikki Dudley learned that she would be leaving him when she would be deployed to Asia and would be leaving in May of 2012. Nikki was a single parent and her own parents lived in Iowa and with other family members who lived in other places, Nikki made the decision to leave her son with his Godparents, people she knew, loved and trusted, they had two children of their own. Justin Corbett and Nikki were in the same squadron when she found out she was going to be deployed, she asked him and his wife, who had cared for her son in the past, to be his caregivers while she was away.

Nikki kept in touch with her son by using Skype and was able to see how he was growing and learning while she was away. Evan was 21 months old when he was clapping and smiling and saying "Mommy come home soon", to his mother. Nikki had no way of knowing she would see her son sooner than she had expected and that when she did, she would be laying beside him in a hospital bed, saying good bye to him. With Evan's cause of death being listed as homicide and child abuse, Nikki expected that an arrest was going to follow, Nikki was wrong.

Evan had begun to walk before Nikki deployed and she said that he was a good natured child who loved to giggle and she never had problems with him having tantrums:

"He loved to hug and kiss people on the cheek. He'd give you a hug and kiss and then go back
to his toys"

Nikki had no problems leaving Even with the Corbett's who she trusted and loved, even though this was the first time she was leaving her son, she felt he was in good hands. Nikki was getting ready to go back home, hanging out with some friends when her First Sergeant called her aside to speak with her and tell her that Evan was being life flighted to the hospital. When Nikki was finally able to talk to Aubrey, she learned that Evan was in the hospital after falling down the stairs. It took two days for Nikki to make it home to Evan:

"I tried to stay calm for him. I knew I had to be strong for him. He may be little but he's smart.
He wouldn't want me freaking out"

After reaching the hospital, Nikki was met by the doctor and told something she had not even considered:

"We're doing everything we can, but Even is not going to make it"

Nikki was devastated and demanded to see Evan. Evan was hooked up to machines, tubes and wires and he was in bed surrounded by stuffed animals which Nikki took off the bed so that she could lay next to him. When the time came to removed Evan's breathing tube, Nikki did that herself and when his heart stopped beating, she washed him and dressed him in pajama pants and the t-shirt she had bought him. Nikki placed her sons body in a body bag and gently laid him in a little red wagon and covered it with a blanket, which was the hospitals way of removing children from a room after they died.

The investigation in to Evan's death had started before Nikki even made it home. Justin had called 911 on November 3 at about 4:00 p.m. Justin told the police that Evan had fallen down the stairs. Justin was not arrested and he continued to worked in the same squadron s Nikki, though the two no longer worked in the same building. Nikki said that it was awkward at work because people wouldn't look her in the face and she stopped going to work place functions in order to avoid people whispering about her.

Evan's case was being handled by civilian law enforcement because the housing where the Corbett's lived in considered private housing, though the base was cooperating with the investigators. Prosecutors said that the case was complex and would probably take many months to complete:

"It was classified as a homicide and we're pursuing it as such"
Deputy Attorney General - Josette Manning
Head of the Child Victims Unit

Ten months after the death of Evan, no arrest had been made and Nikki was understandably upset when calls she made on at least a weekly basis to the Prosecutors office, were never returned:

"I feel that my sons case is being put on the back burner and it is truly not acceptable. Rather then
coming home
to my child alive, I instead had to plan his funeral without even knowing what happened"

Nikki tries to stay optimistic because she was initially told by Josette Manning that Evan's case was not on the back burner. Nikki still has many bad days, but says that Evan helps to keep her going:

"His spirit lives on. He's living on through me"


'EJ' Dudley, 21 mos. DOVER -

Evan Johnathan "EJ" Dudley went home to be with the Lord and looked after in Heaven by his great grandmother, Mary Franzen on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. 

EJ was born Jan. 25, 2011 in Dover, the son of Nikki Marie Dudley of Dover. Evan enjoyed eating, dancing, watching Sponge Bob, snuggling, and taking long walks with his mom. He was known for his immeasurable curiosity, his infectious belly laugh, his humor, and his tenderness. He had a lovable nature about him; you could not help but fall in love with him. 

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his maternal grandparents, David Franzen and Rochelle Smith; his uncles, Adam and Josh Dudley, and Wesley Franzen; his Godparents, David Holecek and Nicole Payne; grandparents of the heart, Tammy and Thomas Garland; as well as his Auntie and Uncles of the heart, Courtney, Cody and Matt.

A viewing will be held on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 from 10 a.m. to noon at the First Southern Baptist Church, located at 761 S. Little Creek Rd., in Dover, DE. Funeral services will begin at noon. Burial will follow in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Camden, DE. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803. Condolence letters may be sent by visiting www.fariesfuneralhome.com.


In February of 2014, Justin K. Corbett, who was by then 25 years old, was arrested and charged with murder by abuse or neglect and was being held on $100,000. bond:

"We knew it was going to take some time to properly charge him, only because of the
complexity of the investigation"
Sgt. Paul Shavack

A child abuse expert and and Pediatric Pathologist were brought in to check the injuries that Johnathan had received and both agreed that he had died from the abuse, making his death a homicide.

UPDATE: December 27, 2014 (Thank you Cat for this update)

In March of 2014, Justin had been arrested and was facing murder by abuse charges, but he was denying that he had hurt Evan in any way. Justin said that he had been walking down the steps with his son when her heard a noise that sounded like books falling to the floor, he said he ran to the bottom of the steps and found Evan.

Statements from Joseph A. Hurley, Justin's Lawyer, were that Justin was in therapy because he feels responsible for what happened after being trusted to take care of  Even and he feels bad that Nikki thinks he abused her son and that it wasn't an accident. Justin was able to bond after a Judge agreed to alter his $100,000. bond. Nikki was understandably upset about this:

"I'm disgusted but the fight for Evan isn't over"

Judge Anne Hartnett Riegle had changed the terms of the $100,000. bond and Justin was able to get out of jail for a payment to a Bondsman who would accept $3,000. for a secure bond to be posted, the original bond was for cash only. Justin will be required to report to the State Pretrial Services Office to be supervised while he is out on bail and he will have to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor where he goes, he will be required to stay 300 feet away from any children, which includes his own children and he has to give up his passport and will not be allowed to leave Delaware.

Justin has no prior criminal record and he is facing 15 years to life in prison if he is found guilty. Prosecutor Josette D. Manning was not in favor of Justin getting out saying that what happened is amount the most heinous crimes that a person can commit and that Justin had been uncooperative with Police while he was being booked and refused to give information for the forms that needed to be filled out. Josette also brought up the fact even though Joseph Hurley had said that Justin had no emotional problems, Justin had in fact been in treatment in the past for anxiety issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder before Evan died. Justin was reported taking Zoloft and Adderall and he had admitted that at times he had consumed alcohol to alleviate some of his stress.

Joseph said that Justin is not a flight risk at all and he commended him for having the courage to do the right thing adding that he is still presumed innocent and having done a tour of duty in war zones, he deserved much more than just sitting in prison as though he were a common criminal.

This page was created on October 27, 2013
Death Occurred in the state of Delaware

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