- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 29, 2003

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (AP) The family of a 10-year-old boy charged with murder on suspicions of having lured a 3-year-old from a library, beating him with a baseball bat and leaving him in a ditch had previously been reported to the state's troubled child-welfare system, officials said.
Authorities didn't identify the suspect, but they confirmed that the state Division of Youth and Family Services had a case file on the boy, and neighbors said they had called the agency because they feared he was being abused.
Gov. James E. McGreevey, a Democrat, has requested a full report on how the boy's case was handled, said McGreevey spokesman Micah Rasmussen. He has been critical of the agency since the discovery in January of a dead boy and his two starving brothers in a Newark basement.
Amir Beeks, 3, was found late Wednesday afternoon lying face down in a drainage ditch within walking distance of the Colonial Library. He was pronounced dead at a hospital Thursday morning.
The 10-year-old was charged a few hours later with murder, felony murder, kidnapping, illegal weapons possession and aggravated sexual assault. He appeared before a Family Court judge Thursday and was being held in the Middlesex County Youth Detention Center.
A man who answered the door at the house where neighbors said the 10-year-old lived refused to comment Thursday.
"This is a shocking case, a tragic case," said Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
He said Amir had been at the library with a relative but disappeared with the older boy about 4:30 p.m. The 10-year-old apparently didn't know Amir.
Authorities said witnesses who saw the boys together led police to the suspect.
Gregory Fedorchak, 18, was working nearby and said he saw the two boys walking together.
"The little kid was following him up the street," Mr. Fedorchak told the New York Times. "We thought everything was, like, fine. Then 10 minutes later, the mother came in looking for him."
Mr. Kaplan said the cause of death has not been determined, but it appeared Amir was beaten with a bat. He said a motive for the attack wasn't clear.
Because of his age, the 10-year-old cannot be tried as an adult. If convicted, he could face 20 years on the murder charge, but could serve longer if convicted on the other charges.
Neighbor Joann Borrelli told the New York Times that she and others feared that the 10-year-old boy was being abused at home and had called the child-welfare agency several times. She said the boy's mother had died years earlier and that the boy had become known as a mischief-maker. Other neighbors made similar comments in other newspapers yesterday.
"It's just too much for us to bear," Amir's aunt, Katherine Johnson, told the Star-Ledger of Newark. "It's too much for anybody to bear."

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