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Police investigating toddler's death as homicide | News

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Police investigating toddler's death as homicide
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Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives are investigating the March 31 death of a 18-month-old toddler, which the medical examiner ruled Monday as a homicide.

The toddler, Rylee Castner, died on March 31 at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

According to a search warrant, Castner was taken to the hospital on March 30 after medics were called and found the toddler was bleeding out of the mouth and not responsive. An officer responding to the hospital noticed Castner had bruising under both cheeks that appeared to be finger marks, a bruise on one foot and a large indentation on the left side of the head.

The search warrant added that the paternal father is not involved with the toddler and the mother has a boyfriend who does not live with her but often stays at the home.

Initial reports said the baby had been sick for several days and was taking a prescription antibiotic.

Castner's grandfather, who declined to be interviewed for this story, did say Monday that his daughter's boyfriend failed a lie detector test and told police that "it was an accident."

The grandfather is grieving for his grandson's death but angry because he said his daughter's boyfriend of four months did this to Rylee.

He said the boyfriend was left with the toddler on March 30 while the mother took a shower. Later that day the family went to a barbecue and the grandmother first noticed Rylee was lethargic, unresponsive and had blood coming from his mouth.

At that point the family called 9-1-1 for medical care for Rylee. He was taken to Sacred Heart, rushed into surgery but died the next day at the hospital.

On Monday the medical examiner's office ruled his death was a result of a "left subdural hemmorhage and right parietal skull fracture due to blunt force trauma."

The manner of death was ruled a homicide. Police report that witnesses have been interviewed but so far no arrests have been made and they won't say who specifically they're looking at as a person of interest or suspect in the case.

"Here we are looking at another tragic death of a small child that didn't need to happen, and so whatever the circumstances are that we're going to discover through the investigation it's still a tragedy," Spokane police Commander Brad Arleth said.

The tragedy of Rylee Castner's death is something the staff at Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery has seen many times before.

"It's heartbreaking and I think everyone would agree with us that there's just no way around that, it's just devastating, it's unnecessary," Vanessa Behan executive director Amy Knapton said.

Knapton said their nursery is open to any parent, for any reason, whether it be an emergency, or just a needed break to run errands, so that they don't have to leave their child with someone they don't entirely trust.

"What I would say to a mom is it's your precious child, just be very careful whoever you leave them with, with a child care provider, with a grandparent, anybody, you just have to make sure that you trust them," she said.

Police were very tight-lipped about this investigation so that it is not compromised when it does come time to make an arrest.

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