Most weekends, the woman would walk alongside her 2-year-old son as he rode his big wheel up and down the sidewalk along Broening Highway, on a block where many brick rowhouses are decorated for the holidays and neighborhood kids regularly gather to play, neighbors said.
But on Sunday, police launched an investigation at the family's home after finding the boy dead from a "severe laceration," and his 32-year-old mother with her throat cut, according to police.
The mother has been named a "person of interest" in the boy's death and police believe the incident was an isolated, domestic tragedy, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman.
Guglielmi would not provide further details regarding the boy's fatal injuries or further information about how the violence erupted, but said police "do not believe that there's any risk to the public."
Police responded to the family's home in the 1400 block of Broening Highway just before noon and found the boy and his mother, Guglielmi said.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was taken to the chief medical examiner's office for an autopsy, Guglielmi said.
The mother was taken to an area hospital and remained in critical condition Monday morning, police said.
Others living in the home were interviewed by police, as homicide detectives worked to determine what happened, he said.
"We don't want to put the cart before the horse and speculate as to what happened," he said.
Police have no motive in the case. An officer who answered the door at the home about 6 p.m. Sunday said family members were not there.
They could not otherwise be reached.
Neighbors on the street said they were shocked and saddened by the news.
"It actually makes me sick to my stomach," said Nick Cygan, 29, who has four daughters and lives across the street. "Just yesterday, she had the little boy out here riding his bike."
Cygan said the block has been "pretty quiet" since he moved there about 10 years ago. "That's the worst thing that's happened since I've been here," he said of the boy's killing.
Brandy Mitzel, 28, who has lived in the neighborhood most of her life, agreed. The boy's death was a terrible reminder that tragedy can strike anywhere, she said.
"It's close to home. It's crazy that things like this can happen," she said. "You don't hear of stuff like this happening on your own street."
The street is one where neighbors watch out for one another and for one another's children, Mitzel said. That the street now has one fewer child is tragic, she said Sunday night, as her own 4-year-old daughter ran down the street with a cousin.
"He didn't get a chance to grow up, to know what life really is," Mitzel said. "He could've had a better life. He was only 2 years old. He was innocent."
The death marks the second killing of a young child in Baltimore in about a week.
Last week, police charged a 20-year-old Baltimore man in the death last Monday of his son, who was born in October.
Dion Ware has been accused by police of lying about what happened to Kearri Dion Ware, who was found by a doctor at John's Hopkins Children's Center to have bruising and fractured ribs, according to charging documents.
Ware told police the boy was asleep and making strange noises when Ware realized he wasn't breathing and tried to attempt CPR, the records say. He later told police he had accidentally dropped the boy on a hardwood floor, records say.
The boy's injuries were inconsistent with both stories, police said.
Ware has been charged with second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, and related charges.
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