UPDATE: Rockford Toddler's Death Considered Homicide

By: WIFR Newsroom
By: WIFR Newsroom
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UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The mother of a toddler who died while staying with family friends in Georgia speaks out publicly for the first time.

Margaret Smith says she fighting for justice for her son, three year old Malachi Smith.

The Georgia woman charged with murder in the death of the Rockford toddler was a close family friend according to Smith.

Karena Warden is accused of killing the 3-year-old.

Smith’s mother sent the boy, who was a special needs child, to stay with her friend in Georgia a few months ago.

"It was always me and Malachi. I seen his beautiful smiley face," said Smith. "Not being able to pick him up, not being able to hold him... I'm gonna miss all of my baby."

The boy died at a hospital in July. According to police, an autopsy showed bruises consistent with abuse.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A 3-year-old boy from Rockford is dead and the woman taking care of him is in jail for allegedly abusing him.

42-year-old Karena Warden of Waycross, Georgia has been charged with murder and cruelty to children. According to the Waycross police Department, the woman was acting as a caretaker for Maliachi Smith this summer.

An autopsy shows he had been physically abused for some time. The boy had been visiting Warden with other relatives from Rockford for about two months.


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