- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas 2-year-old Malik Drummond died three days before a false disappearance story was reported to Searcy Police last year, according to an affidavit for his father’s arrest that was released Thursday.

The affidavit and other documents were unsealed by a White County Circuit Court judge a day after police said they found Malik’s body in a rural area about 50 miles northeast of where he was reported missing from his father’s home in November 2014. The toddler’s father, Jeffery Clifton, was being held without bond at the White County jail after being arrested late Tuesday on charges of capital murder and abuse of a corpse.

Clifton’s ex-girlfriend, 27-year-old Lesley Marcotte, was arrested on a preliminary charge of hindering his arrest, Searcy Police Sgt. Steve Hernandez said. Court officials said she would not have a bond hearing until early Friday, but police said she was released on her own recognizance for medical reasons. They gave no details. Arrest records did not show any attorney information.

According to a second affidavit from police, Marcotte talked to investigators on the one-year anniversary of Malik’s reported disappearance.

On Nov. 23, 2014, a neighbor called 911 to report that the toddler had walked out the screen door after seeing Clifton and Marcotte searching outside for the boy. Marcotte told police she was giving another child a bath and Clifton was sleeping when Malik walked out and disappeared.

Dozens of volunteers, law enforcement and other officials scoured the town and nearby wooded areas for days over the Thanksgiving holiday, draining ditches and retention ponds to try to find the boy.

In the documents released Thursday, Marcotte told police Clifton had beaten Malik on several occasions, and two beatings on Nov. 20, 2014, led to fatal injuries. She said the beatings came after the boy refused to eat his dinner then again after he drank another child’s drink.

Later that night, Marcotte said the boy was acting strangely, but Clifton refused to take him to the hospital because of extensive bruising on Malik’s body. She said she tried CPR later that night when he started making choking noises. She said Clifton took the boy outside and came back a few minutes later and told her he had died.

She told authorities Clifton planned the fake disappearance story and threatened to implicate Marcotte if the police were contacted.

Marcotte said Clifton went to work with Malik’s body in the back of his pickup truck the next day, and later borrowed his brother’s SUV and took the body to dispose of it early on Nov. 23.

It wasn’t clear if Clifton had an attorney. Clifton’s father, John Clifton, said the family had no immediate comment when contacted by The Associated Press, and a call Wednesday to a phone number believed to belong to Malik’s mother rang unanswered.

The affidavit for Clifton’s arrest also includes interviews with witnesses who are not identified, one of whom recorded conversations with Clifton about the child’s death and the disposal of his body.

Hernandez said Clifton agreed Wednesday to take investigators to the spot where remains that authorities believe are Malik’s were found. Hernandez declined to discuss any other details of the interview. The body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for final identification, but Hernandez said he does not know how long that process will take.

Clifton is due in White County Circuit Court for a plea and arraignment hearing on Jan. 5, according to court records.

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