COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Colleton County Coroner's Office identified the four-year-old boy who died in a case being investigated as a homicide by child abuse.
Ki'zadyn Shuler died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to Coroner Richard Harvey.
The boy's mother, 25-year-old Francesca Michelle Shuler, and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Kasiem Rashawn Stephens, face charges of homicide by child abuse in the boy's death, Colleton County Sheriff's Lt. Tyger Benton said.
"[It was] a tragic incident happening to a child like this," said Ki'zadyn's uncle Philip Shuler. "It's definitely, definitely shocking. Shocking and hurting."
Shuler said the last week has been tough to handle.
His sister and her boyfriend were arrested at approximately 6 p.m. Thursday, approximately four-and-a-half hours after the child was rushed to Colleton County Medical Center, Benton said.
Deputies say the boy was unconscious and unresponsive in cardiac arrest when he arrived at the hospital, and say despite medical personnel attempts to render medical aid, the boy was pronounced dead.
"We had no signs or indication this was happening," Philip said.
"He was my heart and it hurts me that something like this happened to an innocent baby," said Ki'zadyn's aunt Joanna Shuler.
Ki'zadyn was known as 'Zae' around the family. They said he had a bubbly personality and was full of life.
"Every time we would come he would run up to the car and say hey! Hey!" Joanna said. "[He would] ask about the puppies."
"[He was] very much an outdoor boy," Philip said. "Very loving and playful. He was just innocent and happy."
Benton said investigators believe the crime happened at the couple's home on Novits Nook Court.
According to arrest warrants, the four-year-old boy had several cuts and bruises over his entire body.
Shuler hasn't been able to talk to his sister yet, but can't imagine her doing something to harm her child.
"There weren't any signs of that," Philip said. "When she grew up she was lovable, lovable child, and from a loving family. No trouble making."
Stephens and Shuler were denied bond Friday afternoon on the homicide by child abuse charge.
The judge also set a bond of $150,000 for each suspect on a charge of unlawful neglect on Shuler's six-year-old, who family said is Zae's sister.
Zae's aunt and uncle also believe Shuler was involved in an abusive relationship with Stephens, one she couldn't get out of.
Spokespeople with the Colleton County Sheriff's Office and Dorchester County Sheriff's Office have no reports of calls to the couple's home for violent disturbances between the two.