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Boy who died of injuries on Mother's Day deemed abuse victim | News

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Boy who died of injuries on Mother's Day deemed abuse victim

VIENNA, Va. (WUSA9) – A three year-old boy who died of injuries his guardians claimed he suffered by falling off a short set of stairs had been the victim of serious physical abuse, a Child Protective Services investigation determined. 

CPS issued their one-page report in October, and the father of three year old Beckett Podominick provided it to WUSA9 on Wednesday. In it, CPS says Beckett suffered “level one” physical abuse, the most serious category but does not elaborate. 

“This finding means that a preponderance of evidence indicates Beckett Podominick was physically abused by an unknown abuser,” the report from a child protective services reads in part. 

Beckett died days after what was initially described as an accident at his mother Erin Tepaske’s Vienna home. An autopsy revealed a fractured skull and other serious head injuries that Tepaske said was the result of falling off a three-foot tall set of stairs outside. 

At the time, Beckett was being watched by Kenneth Bartley, a convicted killer.  

Bartley spent nearly a decade in prison for the shooting death of an administrator at his Tennessee high school, and upon his release he ran into legal troubles again. He ultimately made a deal with the court to move to Virginia and live with Tepaske, who had been his childhood counselor, and who promised to continue to work with him.  

A Vienna police spokesman said the department’s investigation into Beckett’s death remains open and ongoing. No charges of any kind have been filed.

After Beckett’s death, Tennesee news media focused attention on Bartley. Both he and Tepaske said the fall had been accidental, and that he had never hurt the boy. 

Tepaske asked Bartley to move out of the home shortly after her son’s death, she told television station WBIR. She moved out herself sometime in the fall, according to renters now living at the home. 

Tepaske did not respond to email and phone messages requesting comment on the CPS report. 

Bartley’s whereabouts are unknown. He is wanted in Tennessee on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant, and public records searches turn up no listed address for him in Virginia. 

“We are aware of the investigation in the state of Virginia,” Bartley’s attorney, Greg Isaacs told WUSA9. “[The CPS] findings came out months ago. Kenneth has been very adamant that he was in no way involved in the unfortunate death of Beckett Podominick. Kenneth’s and our firms prayers go out to his family.” 

Matthew Podominick, Beckett’s father who lives in Tennessee, told WUSA9 he is “completely devastated” by the CPS report.

“From the beginning I have just wanted the truth and answers and have welcomed the investigation,” Podominick said. 

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