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Man in Chicago Held Without Bond in "Horrific Crime" That Killed Toddler

Officials called the crime "exceptionally brutal and heinous behavior"

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    A man was held without bond after he was charged in connection to the death of a 20-month-old boy. Emily Florez reports. (Published Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014)

    A man was held without bond after he was charged in connection to a "horrific crime" that left a 20-month-old boy dead.

    Vernon Henry, 26, was charged with first-degree murder after a Thursday incident in the 6900 block of South Cornell Avenue left the boy in critical condition at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital Saturday, officials said.

    Officials called the crime "exceptionally brutal and heinous behavior."

    According to court documents, Henry, a live-in boyfriend, was left to care for his girlfriend's son. Police said he often referred to the child as a cry baby or wuss that needed to be toughened up.

    Authorities said Henry admitted that when the boy's mother wasn't there and the child began crying, he violently shook, choked and shoved him against a dresser. When the child was lethargic, police allege Henry wiped the blood from his tiny mouth and put him to bed.

    Initial reports from Chicago Police also said the boy suffered severe burns to his head, face, and neck.

    When the child's mother returned, she was told the boy had slipped and was sleeping, but hours later, when she heard her son breathing loudly, she knew something was wrong and called 911.

    Neighbors said the mother of the boy came out of the home screaming that her son needed help.

    Police questioned the mother following the incident, but she has not been charged. The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services was investigating the mother on allegations of abuse, officials said.

    "I hope he doesn't get the easy way out because that's a baby that's gone," said neighbor Nyeisha Sharps. "[His mother] will have to live with that if she had a maniac around her child."