Sarcoxie Toddler Dies From Abuse

An area community mourns the loss of a toddler this evening.

Three-year-old John Taylor Baxley died shortly after being transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Baxley was in Tampa visiting his father, twenty-six year old, Justin Garwacki.

Garwacki picked up JT. From his mother's Sarcoxie home on June 28th.

Although Wednesday morning, mother Crystal Baxley was informed of her only child's death when an officer from the Jasper County Sheriff's Office showed up at her house.

According to several sources, the arrest report says the boy had a bite mark on his right calf and possibly a broken arm.

The reports also states the couple told officials they hit the boy and filled a sock with uncooked rice, heated it up in the microwave, and burned the toddler.

Garwacki and twenty-one year old girlfriend Kara O'connell are being held with a revoked bond at the Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa.

The two face three counts of aggravated child abuse, one count of child abuse, child neglect, and failure to report child abuse.

Garwacki and O'Connell also have a child together.

Rick Mize is speaking on behalf of this Baxley family during this difficult time.

He had known J.T. All his life and acted as another grand-father.

Mize says the mother was first in disbelief, she never thought her ex-husband could do this.

Mize says, "he was one of these boys with blonde hair and blue eyes that could melt your heart with a smile. He was always very loving, very caring with everything he did. He never met a stranger..he loved everybody...It was just his nature."

The toddler was scheduled to return home from visitation with his dad on August 25th.

The autopsy has been completed, although the cause of death is still pending.

The family will hold a wake Thursday evening at the House Funeral Home in Sarcoxie.

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