Questions abound after the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, who was beaten unconscious with a broom handle by his mother’s boyfriend and hung up by his t-shirt on a hook in his bathroom. How were authorities unable to stop the beatings and remove the boy from the home, despite allegations of child abuse dating back to his infancy? Family, neighbors and teachers all reported seeing bruises on him and even saw him being abused, however, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services was unable to help him, and ultimately, prevent his murder. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, a longtime critic of the department, said of the incident, “The bottom line is something needed to be done differently here,” adding, “We have to figure out what happened. We need to figure out if it was a specific missed opportunity or something systemic that we have to fix.”
Sadly, Zymere Perkins’ entire life seems one of hardship and sorrow. His mother Geraldine, 26, suffered from mental health issues and Zymere spent most of his life shuttling between various homeless shelters in the city’s outer boroughs. Along the way she hooked up with Rysheim Smith, 42, who has a lengthy rap sheet, including three arrests so far this year. Geraldine’s family says she lived in fear of Smith and that he was controlling. Neighbors reported seeing both Geraldine and Smith beat Zymere on numerous occasions and last year school authorities filed a report after finding bruises on his legs. Authorities report the family’s squalid Harlem apartment was infested with cockroaches and had no electricity, the couple stealing electricity from an outlet in the hallway.
Zymere Perkins never returned to school, and in fact wasn’t registered. According to Geraldine, Smith beat Zymere Monday with a wooden broomstick as punishment for defecating in an ice bucket. After Zymere lost consciousness, Smith tried waking him by running water over him and then hung him by his t-shirt on a hook in the bathroom. His mother, who had done nothing to stop the beating, later lay him down on a bed. When he didn’t wake up, she took him to a nearby hospital which determined he had been dead for hours. A preliminary autopsy revealed severe malnourishment, numerous bruises and marks and several broken ribs.
Both Rysheim Smith and Geraldine Perkins have been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Their bail has been set at $50,000. Authorities are expected to place more serious charges against the couple when a complete autopsy has been performed.