A 29-year-old man was charged on Sunday with fatally beating his girlfriend's 11-year-old son after the youth refused to vacuum the apartment.
Anthony Bush is charged with homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of Donovan McKee in the Knoxville apartment they shared with McKee's mother, Cynthia, and her 5-year-old son. Investigators said the beating covered nine hours, including what Bush described as "one clean" head shot and Bush's attempt to sew up a cut on the youth's arm.
Officers went to an apartment at Rochelle Towers on Knox Avenue at 11:45 p.m. Saturday, nearly two hours after Cynthia McKee arrived home from work to find her son naked, lying on the floor and unresponsive, police said. The boy was taken to Mercy Hospital, Uptown, and later to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, where a doctor pronounced him dead at 2:45 a.m. Sunday, police said. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said he died of injuries to his head, trunk and extremities.
Bush told police he repeatedly beat Donovan with wooden sticks and a belt at various times between noon and 9 p.m. after the boy refused to vacuum the apartment, according to court documents. Bush told police that during the beatings, the stick broke and he ordered the boy to clean up the pieces. Then, Bush got a new stick and continued the beating. Bush told police he used at least three sticks.
"I did it. I did it," he told police. "It's my fault."
Police said the boy had multiple bruises and cuts to his head, arms, legs and trunk and probably fractures of the left arm and skull. A Pittsburgh police detective said the child had some injuries that apparently had healed, indicating previous abuse.
According to court documents, Bush said he woke up angry about noon Saturday, after Cynthia McKee had left for work. Bush told investigators she had previously stopped him when he tried to discipline the boys, so he knew he had to wait to discipline Donovan until she was at work.
Bush said that after the beatings, he noticed Donovan's head "did not feel right" and the boy had a cut on his right arm, which Bush sewed using a needle and thread.
When Cynthia McKee arrived home about 10 p.m., she found her son barely breathing, court documents say. Bush told McKee to tell police the child fell out of a window, but McKee refused. She called family members before calling 911.
Investigators said they found blood-stained sheets, tissues and a belt, wood sticks, metal bars and blood on the ceiling and walls in Donovan's bedroom. Court documents say Donovan's young brother was in the room during the beatings.
Marc Cherna, director of Allegheny County's Department of Human Services, said that because of confidentiality rules, he couldn't comment on whether his office had been involved with the family.
Neighbors said they knew of domestic issues within the household but did not know to what extent it included Donovan McKee and his brother. One neighbor described Bush as a "linebacker who's as big as can be." Court documents list him as 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds.
Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said Donovan attended a cyber school, although she did not immediately know which one.
Charles Loveall of Elizabeth, who manages the government-subsidized apartment building, said he only had contact with Bush and Cynthia McKee when he performed maintenance inside their first-floor unit. He did not know how long they have lived in the building.
"I did not suspect anything," Loveall said.
Bush is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. According to court records, Bush pleaded guilty in March 2007 to a summary charge of disorderly conduct and eventually paid a $284 fine.