When his 6-year-old nephew wouldn't cooperate in picking out his school clothes for the next day, a Delaware County man - a black belt in karate - beat him to death, officials said.
Paul Adams, 38 of Wallingford, allegedly lashed Tyreece Charlow with a large belt after the child failed to follow directions promptly, the District Attorney's Office said.
"The beating lasted 45 minutes," District Attorney Jack Whelan said. He called the incident a "heinous, savage beating," adding that medical examiner's staff said they had not seen a worse case of child abuse. An autopsy revealed that Tyreece died of blunt-force trauma.
Adams, who holds a fourth-degree black belt, has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail at the Delaware County Prison.
Whelan said Adams used more than his belt in administering the beating Thursday.
"This uncle utilized his hands and/or feet to kill this child," he said. Adams' only regret, Whelan said, was drawing blood.
It was not clear why the child, a student at Nether Providence Elementary School, lived with Adams, Whelan said, adding that he did not know the name or address of the child's mother.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Superintendent Rich Noonan said Tyreece, who had attended the school since kindergarten, was known as a "normal, happy first grader."
"The whole thing is a terrible, shocking tragedy for all of us," Noonan said. He said that counselors were at the school Monday and that a special meeting was held later in the day for parents.
According to court documents, after picking up Tyreece from school, Adams told police, the two attended a karate class in West Chester.
When they returned home after 10 p.m., the boy went upstairs, brushed his teeth, took a shower, put on pajamas, and returned downstairs to say his prayers.
The uncle said they went over the plans for the next day, including choosing clothes. Adams set a timer and told Tyreece he had three minutes to get everything ready. When Tyreece did not comply, he beat the boy first with a small belt, then reset the timer and retrieved a wider belt.
He removed the boy's pajamas and continued to strike him, restraining the child's hands. The child fell to the ground when Adams stopped the beating.
He cleaned the wounds with peroxide and put the naked boy to bed. Adams told police that when he first returned to check on the boy, he thought he was asleep, but a few hours later he found Tyreece unresponsive, with a brown liquid coming from his mouth, according to court documents.
Adams brought the boy to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead early Friday.
"We don't believe the child was breathing at the time he was brought into the medical center," Whelan said.