Ga. woman charged with murder in death of 3-year-old

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
News4Jax.com Staff, webteam@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:16:36 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2014 10:24:56 PM EDT

Waycross Police Department booking photo of Karena Warden

WAYCROSS, Ga. -

A 42-year-old woman has been charged with murder in the death of a 3-year-old child who was in her care, according to the Waycross Police Department.

News4Jax was told the child, Maliachi J'Quavion Smith, was recently adopted by a woman in Rockford, Illinois, and was sent to Waycross, Georgia, a couple months ago to visit and be cared for by Karena Warden.

Maliachi was taken unresponsive to the Mayo Clinic in Waycross and died at the hospital. A family member at first said Maliachi died of natural causes.

But an autopsy showed he had multiple contusions that evidenced abuse over a long period of time.

Warden, who is in the Ware County Jail, was initially charged with cruelty to a child in the first degree and was later charged with murder.

Warden's husband said Wednesday that he had been advised by his lawyer not to speak to the media.

Police said Maliachi was visiting Waycross with other children he was related to from Illinois.

The Ware County Department of Family and Children Services is investigating. There is no word on whether the other children are still in the home.

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