Police: Father stabbed 1-year-old, hid body in basement

Invited over to help celebrate his son's first birthday, 25-year-old Hari P. Close III had been a no-show.

But overnight Tuesday, Close crept into the home where his son lived and climbed into bed with the boy's mother, records show. On Wednesday morning, 1-year-old Dalyire Damion McFadden was missing, and he was later found by police wrapped in a deflated air mattress in the basement. He had been stabbed in the neck, police say.

Close, who was an aspiring male model, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in his son's death and was being held without bond. Police say he admitted hiding bloody evidence, which was later found with the murder weapon.

The arrest stunned Close's father, a well-known funeral home director in the city and president of the state morticians' board. He said he never saw any signs that his son was troubled.

"He's been raised in a Christian church, a two-parent home, with great opportunities for education," said Hari P. Close II. "Who really knows their children? All we can do is pray."

Police said they were called to the home of the boy's 23-year-old mother in the 2700 block of Riggs Ave. in Southwest Baltimore for a report that Dalyire had been abducted. Officers found a pool of blood in an upstairs bedroom and followed a blood trail to the basement, charging documents show.

There, they found Dalyire's body wrapped in a deflated air mattress, in a pool of blood, according to records. He had suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck area and was not breathing.

The boy's mother, Jessica McFadden, told detectives she had asked Close to come over to celebrate Dalyire's birthday, records show. Close never responded to the invitation, and later McFadden locked the doors and went to bed.

But early Wednesday, McFadden awoke to the sound of the boy crying and saw Close carrying him out of her bedroom, according to court records. She said she did not know how he got inside. Close returned the child to the bedroom and got into bed with McFadden and spent the rest of the night with her, records show.

When McFadden walked her 6-year-old son to a nearby school, Close also left the residence, traveling west on Riggs, she said. Dalyire had been left alone on a bed in the master bedroom.

When McFadden returned 10 minutes later, the boy was missing. She searched the home without finding him and then called police. Police officers discovered the boy's body behind the closed basement door.

Attempts to reach McFadden on Thursday were not successful. Police say McFadden had been extensively questioned Wednesday night, but she is not facing charges.

Close has no criminal record other than traffic tickets. He attended the Piney Woods School in Mississippi, a boarding school for African-Americans where tuition runs between $7,000 and $15,000 per year. He then went on to attend the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, though his father said he did not graduate.

According to his Facebook page, Close billed himself as a male model.

"My ultimate goal is to make my mark within this modeling industry and become the worlds top super model," he wrote on the page.

Seth London, a New York-based photographer, said he worked with Close, who seemed to be a "good kid." They kept in touch after doing a photo shoot and had communicated as recently as a few days ago, London said.

"He had told me he was on a break from modeling because he was trying to get his personal life in order," London said.

Close's father said he was working at the funeral home, where he helped with operations and transportation.

Police records show that McFadden told police that Close had harmed Dalyire in the past, once attempting to choke him. In April, McFadden told police he'd bitten the boy on the ear. An officer was sent to the scene, but saw no signs of injury to the child and said the child did not appear to be upset. Close was not there, and the officer marked the case "unfounded." Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer gave McFadden a form outlining how to get help.

Molly McGrath, the director of the city's social services agency, did not have firsthand knowledge of the April call to police, but said it appeared to have been handled correctly. She said the agency did not have any history with McFadden or Close.

"I trust the decision [police] make in the moment," McGrath said. "If there's no sign of trauma on the child, it makes perfect sense."

Police said Close did not confess to killing the boy but told them he found Dalyire bleeding from the neck, wrapped the child in the air mattress and placed him in the basement, but did not call 911.

Close told detectives he collected his bloody clothing and a fitted sheet from the bed, placed it in a black plastic bag inside a box and discarded it in a vacant house, according to records. He later told police where to find the box.

When police found it, in the 2800 block of Prospect Ave., a black-handled kitchen knife covered in blood was also inside, according to police.

McFadden had sued Close for child support in March, and he was ordered to pay $195 per month, court records show. The boy's name is spelled differently in police and paternity records.

The Maryland Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors released a statement calling the death a "very sad and confusing time."

"The families do not, yet, understand how this tragedy occurred," said Michelle H. Huggins, vice president of the board, in the statement. "As can be seen by this untimely occurrence, no one escapes grieving a death in their own family."