Izayah Arlen Wayne Denison
October 2, 2008 - December 30, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial
In a picture taken just days after his birth, Izayah Denison is wearing a shirt that said "My Hero" on the front. Little did any one know that  the shirt would prove to be true. Izayah would be a hero to babies who would need his organs. Izayah was laying in a hospital, brain dead and surgeons were going to remove his organs to be given to other sick babies. The death of Izayah would give life to three other babies who needed a heart, kidneys and a liver:

“He’s now a hero to a lot of babies"
James VanCuren - Izayah's father

When medics arrived at the home of Jenauh Denison, they found a neighbor performing CPR on Izayah. Izayah was almost three months old and he was unconscious. Izayah lived in the home with his mother and his three year old brother. Andrew W. Whitmore, who was 22 at the time, was arrested later that evening, December 26, 2008, at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Jenauh had checked into the emergency room earlier that day and Andrew had been taking care of Izayah and his brother.

Andrew was, at first, charged with first degree assault of a child in Spokane County District Court. Judge Sarah Derr set bail at $1 million dollars and said that after Izayah was taken off of life support and died, the charge would be changed to first degree or second degree murder.

Papers that were filed said that Jenauh had checked into the Sacred Heart Medical Center about four hours before her son was brought in. Izayah was not breathing and he had bruises on his legs, back and on his bottom. Jenauh said that Izayah had been colicky that day and she had handed him over to Andrew and that had calmed him down. Andrew said that he changed Izayah's diaper, fed him a bottle and found him limp on the couch where he had laid him down after he fell asleep.

"A baby or young child cannot not just fall down and injure themselves to the extent
consistent with these injuries and so we could immediately see that some one 
had done this to the child" 
Spokane Police Detective Sergeant Joe Peterson

Detective Mark Burbridge, of the Spokane Police Department said to Andrew that the bruises looked like they had been given to Izayah recently. Andrew put his head down and said:

 "I didn’t mean to hurt him"

Andrew stated that he had been playing with Izayah and that his head had snapped back. When Mark Burbridge said that he knew that was a lie, Andrew admitted that he had spanked Izayah with a spatula, though he said it had not been very hard. Andrew said that if Izayah was going to keep crying, he was going to give him something to cry about. He said that he had shaken him three times, gently, with a back and forth motion and that after that, Izayah had gone limp and then stopped breathing.

Jenauh had been dating Andrew since August and said that Andrew considered Izayah to be his own son:

"He’d hold him. He’d dance with him. He’d rock him to sleep. In a way, I do think it’s
my fault. I had
him at my house. All I know is I hate myself for doing that. I wish
e could be psychic" 

Izayah's father, James A. Vancuren, said that he had been a happy baby:

"Every time I’d hold him he’d just look at me and smile and giggle"

A team of doctors were delayed because of the snow. They had been traveling from Seattle to see Izayah and to remove his organs to be transplanted into the three babies:

"It’s not going to really kick in until he’s gone"

James and Jenauh plan to get tattoos that will honor their son. On December 30, 2008, at 1:45 p.m., Izayah was taken off of life support and he died. Izayah was to be cremated and his ashes would be put into two urns, one for each of his parents. Jenauh hopes that she can get in touch with the families who have received the organs donated:

“I hope they have a better life than everything that we’ve had to deal with” 

In Spokane County, at least two babies a year die from Shaken Baby Syndrome. Sadly, Andrew and Jenauh had been visited just days before Izayah died, by a public health nurse who had spoken to them about the dangers of shaking a baby. Through a program called First Steps, which is a state-funded program to help poor, pregnant woman receive education about parenting, Jenauh and Andrew had also been visited on December 23 and scheduled another appointment for seven days later.

The First Steps program serves 29,000 women with many of them being single, unemployed and without a high school diploma. Elaine Conley, the director of Community And Family Services says that the protocols include having the mother and other caregivers sign a statement saying that they have participated in the program and have received information about parenting. Signing the statement shows that the parents and caregivers are held accountable for the well being of the children. Officials couldn't comment on if Andrew and Jenauh had signed the contract or not.

First steps leaves pamphlets with young mothers and a video can also be shown to warn about the dangers of who a baby is left with. The video talks about how easy it is to harm and even kill a baby with shaking, even when it doesn't seem very severe. The state budget crisis is causing the program to be cut by about 20% and that will mean many women will not get the counseling they are in need of. Officials say that the cuts in this program are going to cause more infant deaths:

“We have more work to do and yet the money and numbers of nurses aren't
going to be there”

When a baby who is being seen by First Steps is shaken, a thorough investigation takes place to make sure that protocol was followed:

"Unfortunately, sometimes these events happen and there is absolutely nothing that we 
could have done to prevent it" 
Marilyn Walli - Health District’First Steps Manager.

Jenauh confirmed that the nurse who had visited them had talked to them about  Shaken Baby Syndrome:

“She talked to us about that, yes. She left pamphlets with us and I sat down with
Andrew and
went over it again"

Jenauh said that she had taken a lie detector test and that another one was scheduled, to show that she was not home when Izayah was hurt, she had checked herself into the hospital for postpartum depression:

“They want to rule out that I had anything to do with this.
I’m not afraid. I have nothing to hide"


DENISON, Izayah Arlen Wayne 
(Age 2 months, 28 days)

Passed away December 30, 2008.

He is survived by his mother Jenauh M. Denison; father James A. Vancuren; brothers Daumanic W.G. Obrien, Zachary, John Mathew and Elijah Vancuren; sister Emily Vancuren all of Spokane; maternal grandparents Steve and Charlotte Etue of Fruitland; maternal great-grandfather Elmer Johnson of Davenport; paternal grandmother Laurie Nelson; uncles Daniel Vancuren and Brock Nelson; several aunts, uncles and cousins; close friends Windy Jenks and John Paul Roots. Preceded in death by two great- grandmothers, grandfather and an uncle.

Memorial Services 1:00 PM, Saturday, January 24, 2009 at Heritage Chapel. Memorial contributions can be made at any Numerica Credit Union Branch.


Today is June 9, 2014 and I am unable to find any further information on this case.

UPDATE: December 23, 2014 - (Thank you Cat for all you do to remember the children)

Jenauh has moved on with her life, though she seems to be missing Izayah. A Facebook page shows the son who was born before Izayah, he's nine years old. On October 2, 2012, she posted this:

Happy Birthday to my angel in heaven IZAYAH. I love you so very much and miss you all to much more. Wishing you were here you would have been 4 today. But some a**hole took you away. So now I just wish, wishing on a lot of things. But the one I hope is I can have an alright day. Wishing you were with me on your special day. I LOVE YOU IZAYAH ARLEN WAYNE DENISON. also jeffs parents leaving today isn't making it any easier. They have been wonderful to me.

Death Occurred in the state of Washington

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