Thunder clapped and clouds rolled in — a warning of impending rain — as a crowd of people grew. They stood, red and blue balloons in hand, in front of 4533 N. Rogers Ave. in Woodmere in Northwest Baltimore. Neighbors, hearing the gathering outside, looked on from their front porches.

Almost 100 people came from various parts of the city late Tuesday afternoon to show support for Malachi Lawson and his family.

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Police found Malachi’s body in a trash bin Saturday nine blocks away from his home after his mother reported him missing Friday. He was 4 years old.

The body was found with burns from a scalding bath that had gone untreated for days, according to police charging documents released Monday.

The boy’s mother Alicia Lawson, 25, and her spouse Shatika Lawson, 40, were arrested Friday after, according to the documents, Malachi’s mother acknowledged in interviews that her son wasn’t missing but dead.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said during a news conference Saturday that the two were charged with one count of neglect that resulted in the death of a minor. Later that day, The Baltimore Sun reported that they were also charged with first-degree child abuse, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence and giving false statements.

“It’s heartbreaking for one because it’s a little kid. He was gone too soon.”


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The crowd Tuesday included both family friends and community members who were drawn by his story.

West Baltimore resident Elizabeth Jackson said she heard about Malachi in the news.

“It’s heartbreaking for one because it’s a little kid,” Elizabeth Jackson said. “He was gone too soon.”

She joined hands with the rest of the crowd that surrounded Jil Jackson, a Baltimore woman who said she had been Malachi’s foster parent for years.

Jil Jackson said Malachi was one of the sweetest babies she had ever fostered, and she loved him as if he were her own son.

“He would sit on my bed and just play with his fingers,” Jil Jackson said.

Baltimore minister Lady Moses, who preaches at New Life Fellowship Church on 559 Robert St., remained close to Jil Jackson. She sang and led prayers for the grieving crowd.

“I’m just here to give my respects to the family and to let them know if they need me for anything, I’m available to them,” she said.

Half a dozen police officers joined the group, including Harrison, who gave a brief speech.

“The worst thing that could possibly happen to a family in the community is the loss of a child, but, conversely, the best thing that could happen to a community is when a community gets together to rally up against the evil that took a child,” Harrison said.

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He mentioned that Malachi’s vigil was taking place on National Night Out, an annual campaign that encourages communication between police and the community.

“Now let’s take what we see now [and] turn this into more than just one night. Let’s turn this into every week, every month, all year long,” Harrison said.

Moments after balloons were released and carried away with the wind, rain started to pour, but the crowd lingered to hug Jil Jackson and express condolences.

“For those of you who don’t know your neighbors, get to know your neighbors,” Harrison said. “So that we can wrap our arms around all of our children so that tragedies like this don’t happen again.”

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