KANSAS CITY -- A father is seeking custody of two of his children after the murder of a third child in a horrific case of child abuse in southwest Missouri. Bryant Sykes, 24, of Joplin faces second-degree murder charges in the death of a toddler. The child's mother also faces felony charges.
The father, 30-year-old Andre Bowman of Kansas City, admits that he hasn't been part of his children's lives since he split from their mother. But now that he's lost his youngest to murder, he wants that to change.
Authorities in Newton County say 17-month-old Ada Bowman died after her mother's boyfriend became upset and threw the child onto a bed with such force, the baby bounced off and crashed into a coffee table. Ada suffered head trauma and internal bleeding. She was transferred from Joplin to Children's Mercy here by helicopter. She died four days later. Andre Bowman stayed at the hospital the entire time.
"They were hooking her up to all types of machines, trying to get a response out of her, but they didn't get anything," Bowman said. "She would not respond to anything. Any medicine or anything."
Bowman says the experience made him realize that he needs to be there for his surviving children, -- Angelicia, 2, and Amilleo, 3. Their mother, Gina Salazar faces child endangerment and hindering prosecution charges. Her boyfriend, Sykes, is charged with Ada's murder.
"It affected me because all of my kids were real close, and I know right now, they are thinking about their sister," Bowman said. "For a while I had to disappear out of their life. I don't want them to be confused anymore. I want them to know who their daddy is and to be with me."
The surviving kids have been placed in foster care, and Bowman says he faces a lot of travel expenses to Newton County for court hearings and visitation to convince the state he can be a good dad. Bowman is disabled from an auto accident and doesn't work, but he does have the support of his church.
"It's his family but it's also for the kids as well," said Rev. Brandon Richardson of the New Ransom Jesus Church. "With all they have been through, I believe they need the loving care of their father, grandmother, aunties, cousins and everyone to help them cope with this."
A fund has been set up to help Bowman in his effort to gain custody of his surviving children: Amilleo and Angelicia Fund, Kansas City Missouri Police Credit Union, 2800 E 14th Street, Kansas City, Mo.