Jaedyn Minley loved bounce houses, but was terrified of Chuck E Cheese.
Jaedyn had a significant collection of little toy cars and the diction of an adult.
And on Saturday, after the 4-year-old was declared brain dead, Jaedyn was removed from life support, and his organs were harvested to save the lives of two other children and an adult.
"He was the best kid," Jaedyn's paternal aunt, Janai Minley, said Monday. "He was just the smartest, wittiest little kid, and he wasn't shy. He'd always say 'Hi, my name's Jaedyn.' "
Jaedyn's mother, Judy Minley, 26, and her live-in boyfriend, James Dwight Robinson, 27, are being held in the Pima County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. They were originally arrested on child abuse charges Thursday, but those charges were upgraded after Jaedyn died.
Tucson Fire Department paramedics were summoned to the couple's apartment about 11 a.m. Thursday after being told a child had been found "drowning in a bathtub," court documents state.
Paramedics found the boy unconscious, unresponsive and bleeding from his buttocks, court documents state. His body was covered in bruises ,and he was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
"There was no indication the boy had actually been underwater or nearly drowned as was originally reported," Tucson Police Sgt. Maria Hawke said in a news release.
Minley and Robinson told detectives the boy had been disobedient the night before and had talked back to them, court documents state. Minley said she tried to make the boy hold 8-pound bottles of laundry detergent in each hand and when he refused, she and Robinson stripped him and whipped him with a sandal, records show.
When the sandal broke, Minley said she taped it up and gave it back to Robinson so he could continue to beat the boy, court documents state.
Robinson told detectives the beating lasted 45 to 60 minutes straight, court documents state.
Janai Minley said her brother Lance and Judy Minley separated about three years ago while Lance, a U.S. Navy veteran, was stationed in San Diego.
Judy Minley and Robinson moved to Tucson between 12 and 18 months ago, and Lance Minley moved to the Atlanta area in November after being honorably discharged, Janai Minley said. She also lives in the Atlanta area.
Lance flew to Tucson so he could say goodbye to his son, and it was his decision to allow the boy's heart, lungs and kidneys to be harvested, Janai Minley said. They were told the organs were given to a 7-month-old baby, a 3-year-old child and an adult.
"It's what Jaedyn would've wanted. He was so sweet," Janai Minley said.
Although Judy used to allow Jaedyn to come visit his father's family for a couple of months at a time, she had ignored their attempts to reach her in recent months, Janai Minley said.
"My brother wanted to be in his life so bad, but she completely outcasted him, him and us," Janai Minley said.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Janai Minley said she sent messages to Judy through Facebook.
They had hoped he could spend this summer with them, just as he did last summer, Janai Minley said.
In fact, Jaedyn got to celebrate his Sept. 1 birthday with them, Janai Minley said.
Jaedyn's services will likely be held in Georgia, she said.
The family is horrified about the allegations being made.
"It shocks me because I never knew she would have done this," Janai Minley said of her sister-in-law. "I never knew one person could have so much hate in her heart for someone. If she didn't want him, we would have gladly taken him."
While both Janai and Lance's Facebook pages are filled with condolences, Judy Minley is being soundly condemned on her Instagram page.
The pictures on the social networking sites show a smiling Jaedyn over the course of his life. One set of pictures on his mother's Instagram photo shows her and Jaedyn posing under the caption "Unbreakable bond."
Minley's and Robinson's bonds have been set at $500,000 each.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org