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Days after Keontaye’s death, Prince George’s detectives questioned Howard and Keontaye’s mother in separate interviews, according to police records.

They asked Howard not only about Keontaye’s death but what happened to another one of the couple’s children, a 7-month-old sister hospitalized as “grossly malnourished” not long after Keontaye’s death.

Like Keontaye, the baby suffered from “severe malnutrition,” according to records. She also had eye injuries that “required the amount of force one sees in a car accident,” the records show. Both parents denied hurting the children.

“We didn’t take her to the hospital because we thought you all would take her away from us,” Howard told Detective Sean Chaney of the decision not to seek medical care for the baby.

In a letter to a Maryland judge, Smith said she did not abuse her children and was sorry for not getting them medical attention. But she said she had scheduled doctors visits for both children, though Keontaye died the day before her appointment.

During his interview with police, Howard was asked why he’d leave the couple’s children alone in the apartment while Smith went to work.

“Because I thought they would be all right,” he replied.

Detective Chaney also pressed Howard about the last time he saw Keontaye alive, according to police records.

“How did Keontaye die?” the detective asked.

“I don’t know how she died,” Howard said.

“What do you suspect?”

“I don’t know.”

Running away

“You know I ain’t gonna ask you for nothing unless I need it … and I need it for real, man,” Howard said in a phone call a few weeks after his arrest in Keontaye’s killing. “Cause that little two thousand I got I was gonna try to hold that.”

“You know I paid for the funeral and everything myself.”

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