UPDATE: Appeals court upholds life sentence of man convicted of murdering 6-year-old boy

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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 10/16/18 @ 9:45 p.m.
An appeals court has upheld the sentence of a man convicted of murdering a 6-year-old autistic boy, according to information from the Scioto County Prosecutor's Office.

In September 2017, Douglas Hunt was convicted on charges of aggravated murder, endangering a child, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse in the death of TJ Caudill.

Hunt was sentenced later that month to life without parole.

According to a ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeals in Ohio, Hunt's conviction was proper. He can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Caudill's mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 15 year to life in TJ's death.

TJ's body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.



UPDATE 9/18/17 @ 3 p.m.
A man has been sentenced to life without parole after being convicted in the murder of a 6-year-old boy.

Douglas Hunt was found convicted Sept. 8 on charges of aggravated murder, endangering a child, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse in the death of TJ Caudill.

Caudill's mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty to murder and has been sentenced to 15 year to life in TJ's death.

TJ's body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.



UPDATE 9/14/17 @ 4:20 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The mother of a 6-year-old autistic boy murdered last November faces at least 18 years behind bars, the Scioto County Prosecutor's Office says.

Margarita White, who had pleaded guilty to TJ Caudill's murder, was sentenced Wednesday from 15 years to life. She also had pleaded guilty to child endangerment, which carries a three-year sentence.

It means White will not appear before a parole board for at least 18 years.

Last week, Douglas Lee Hunt was convicted of aggravated murder, endangering a child, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse for TJ's death.

TJ's body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.



UPDATE 9/10/17 @ 11:05 a.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- It's been about 10 months since the body of 6-year-old TJ Caudill was found at a home on Mabert Road in Portsmouth. The trial for his murder came down with a guilty verdict on Friday.

Saturday, friends and family gathered at the site where TJ's body was found to clean up a memorial put together at the site, and to hang signs and pictures in honor of TJ.

"Nobody wants to lose a family member especially a child," said TJ's uncle, Austin Allard. "The grandmother was here and she couldn't stop crying throughout the entire clean up process."

Allard and family relative Dlayne Ritz organized the clean up after Allard drove by the memorial Friday evening and saw the conditions it was in.

"It was actually last night around 6:00, I asked her where this was because I had not seen it and when I came up here there was trash all over the sidewalk, the grass was high, the flowers were knocked over and I messaged her about 1:00 in the morning and asked her if we could clean it up today."

That's when Ritz says she posted about the clean up on Facebook and many donated their time, or supplies to help. The family even made posters with the saying "#Justice4TJ" and others with the numbers for child abuse hotlines.

Allard says that their main goal was to help other kids in similar situations that his nephew faced.

Court records say, TJ's mother, Margarita White, admitted that she and her boyfriend Douglas Hunt abused TJ, who also had autism.

On Sept. 1, White plead guilty to murder and child endangerment in connection to her son's death. On Friday Hunt was convicted of aggravated murder, endangering a child, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.

Allard and Ritz say what they believe will be justice for TJ is using his story as an example of telling others to look out for children that may face similar abuse.

"Maybe there's something going on in a family that they don't the signs to see," said Ritz. "Hopefully TJ's justice will be saving on more child instead of having to go what he went through."

Allard and Ritz say they are hoping to be able to buy the property where TJ's body was found, remove the house, and make a more permanent memorial.

White is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.



UPDATE 9/8/17 @ 8:25 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A man accused of murdering a 6-year-old boy with autism was found guilty Friday on all counts, Portsmouth Police say.

Douglas Lee Hunt was convicted of aggravated murder, endangering a child, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse for the death of TJ Caudill.

TJ Caudill’s body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.

His mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty last week to murder and testified Thursday that the actions of her boyfriend, Hunt, toward TJ changed after Hunt started using suboxone.



UPDATE 9/8/17 @ 4:25 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The case against a man accused of murder in the death a 6-year-old boy with autism has gone to the jury in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

Douglas Lee Hunt faces multiple charges in the death of TJ Caudill, including aggravated murder.

TJ Caudill’s body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.

His mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty last week to murder and testified Thursday that the actions of her boyfriend, Hunt, toward TJ changed after Hunt started using suboxone.

The case went to the jury around 4 p.m. Friday.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/7/17 @ 4:15 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A man facing charges in connection with the death of a 6-year-old boy with autism is on trial and his girlfriend is testifying against him.

Douglas Lee Hunt faces multiple charges in the death of TJ Caudill, including aggravated murder.

TJ Caudill’s body was found in November 2016 in Portsmouth.

His mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty last week to murder and today testified that the actions of her boyfriend, Hunt, toward TJ changed after Hunt started using suboxone.

White said Hunt began physically punishing TJ during potty training by making him stand in the corner on one leg for hours, smearing feces in TJ's mouth and denying him food.

White says Hunt's punishments became severe and he would lock TJ in the bathroom for weeks and wouldn't allow her to feed or see him and only Hunt was allowed to feed him.

White testified the last time she saw her son she told him she loved him and that he looked really bad.

White testified that after TJ died, Hunt placed the body in a cooler.

The prosecution played a video recording of an interview police conducted with Hunt. At one point on the recording Hunt cried telling police "I didn't murder a child, I didn't murder a child."

TJ’s body was found off Mabert Road in Portsmouth.

Investigators say White has admitted that her son died at a motel before she hid his body.

She's also admitted to police that she had been abusing her son with Hunt. When asked why all this happened White said Hunt liked having control over her and TJ.

Testimony is expected to go through the rest of the week.

White is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 14.



UPDATE 9/5/17 @ 12:45 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A man’s trial is underway Tuesday in the case of a 6-year-old boy found dead last year.

Last November, TJ Caudill’s body was found in Portsmouth. His mother, Margarita White, pleaded guilty last week to murder. She is set to be sentenced Thursday, Sept. 14.

White’s boyfriend, Douglas Lee Hunt who's on trial, also faces multiple charges in TJ’s death, including aggravated murder.

TJ’s body was found off Mabert Road in Portsmouth. Investigators say White has admitted that her son died at a motel before she hid his body. She's also admitted to police that she had been abusing her son with Hunt.

During Monday's testimony, TJ's father Michael Caudill told the jury about the last time he saw his son in August of 2015.

After that, Caudill claims White and Hunt moved around the Tri-state area frequently, which kept him from seeing TJ.

Michael Bell, a friend of TJ’s biological father, spoke to WSAZ outside the courthouse.

“This really hits home in all directions,” Bell said. “Today we need to all stand together and pray and pray that justice is served for this little boy and the family."

Testimony is expected to go through the rest of the week.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/1/17 @ 3:20 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The mother of a 6-year-old boy pleaded guilty to murder and child endangerment in his death, according to Common Pleas Court Judge William Marshall's office.

Margarita L. White and her boyfriend, Douglas Lee Hunt, are charged in the death of TJ Caudill, who was White's son.

TJ's body was discovered in November 2016 at a home in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Sentencing for White is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 14.

Hunt is set to go on trial at 9 a.m. Sept. 5.

Both suspects were indicted by a Scioto County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder, murder, three counts of endangering children, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/20/16
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The mother of a 6-year-old boy and her boyfriend were indicted Friday by a Scioto County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder, murder, three counts of endangering children, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse.

Margarita L. White and Douglas Lee Hunt were named defendants in the seven- count indictment, according to court documents.

The two are charged with the death of TJ Caudill, White's son.

TJ's body was recovered last Sunday night from a home in Portsmouth, Ohio.

UPDATE 11/16/16 @ 11 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A community mourned the loss of a 6-year-old boy Wednesday night.

Neighbors, friends, and family say the details of TJ Caudill's death are beyond disturbing.

"He always was able to put a smile on your face," Thomas Shannon, a friend of TJ's father, said. "Anytime he was around, he would light up a room."

"There are hardly words to express what's in my heart," Ronda Adkins, who'd known TJ since he was 3, said.

The mother, Margarita White, was arrested after failing to enroll her son in school.

Police say she confessed her autistic 6-year-old son had been dead since summer and that TJ had died in a motel in August after being malnourished and abused by her boyfriend, Douglas Hunt.

Police found the boy's remains in a house in Portsmouth this weekend.

Wednesday night outside Spartan Municipal Stadium, family and friends of both TJ's mom and dad grieved together.

Some in attendance wore shirts that said "Justice for TJ." They believe there were enough red flags that this should've never been allowed to happen.

"There were several balls that were dropped," Shannon said. "Precautions could've been taken a little bit further."

Their message now is if you think you know about a case of child abuse, don't be afraid to get involved.

"If you see something that looks a little bit wrong, do something about it," Mike Bell, president of the Autism Project, said.

The event also raised nearly $400 in TJ's funeral expenses. Organizers sold shirts and baked goods.



UPDATE 11/14/16 @ 6:25 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A mother and her boyfriend are now charged with murder in the death of the woman's 6-year-old son.

According to Portsmouth Municipal Court records, murder warrants have now been filed for Margarita L. White, 25, and Douglas Lee Hunt, 33, in the death of White's son, Tyler Joseph "TJ" Caudill, 6.

According to Portsmouth Police, TJ had not been seen by his paternal family since June of 2016 because of frequent moves around the tri-state area by White.

An official missing child report was filed with the Portsmouth Police Department on Nov. 6, 2016.

With the assistance of multiple agencies, investigators from the Portsmouth Police Department and the Scioto County Sheriff's Office were able to locate White and arrest her on a warrant filed by Scioto County Juvenile Court for failure to enroll TJ in school.

During the interview, White told investigators TJ died Aug. 23 at a motel. She says it happened after she left her son in the room with Hunt. She said Hunt had been physically abusing TJ for some time and that both she and Hunt were keeping TJ malnourished.

Police say White also admitted she and Hunt hid TJ's body at a home in the 1500 block of Mabert Road where investigators found the remains Sunday night.

“It’s not something you would think would happen in your neighborhood,” said Brandy Cook who lives near where investigators found Caudill’s body. “This is unheard of. I understand people go missing all the time, children are abducted every day, but when it hits home, it really hits your heart. Nobody’s gonna be there for that little boy. Nobody was there to help that little boy.”

Investigators say the scene was just as difficult for them to process, as they continue to connect the dots of when Caudill was left seen by his relatives, to when he died, and when the remains were found.

“You know we're all parents,” said Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware. “Children are special, and it's difficult. It’s difficult for everybody involved. It’s difficult for the families, it's difficult for the first responders, and it's tough.”

White is being held in the Scioto County Jail.

Hunt was taken into custody Sunday night after he was caught following an altercation. Police say he had to be taken to a Huntington hospital for his injuries. He is still in Huntington Police custody and will be until an extradition hearing.

Caudill’s body was taken to Dayton, Ohio, for an autopsy to determine an official cause of death.

Keep checking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/13/16 @ 10:31 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The investigation into a missing autistic child has led to the discovery of a body in Portsmouth Sunday night.

According to the Portsmouth Police Department, six year old Tyler Joseph "TJ" Caudill had not been seen by his paternal family since June of 2016 amid frequent moves around the tri-state area by the mother, Margarita L. White, 25.

An official missing child report was filed with the Portsmouth Police Department on November 6, 2016.

With the assistance of multiple agencies, investigators from the Portsmouth Police Department and the Scioto County Sheriff's Office were able to locate White and arrest her on a warrant filed by Scioto County Juvenile Court for failure to enroll TJ in school.

During the interview, White told investigators that TJ was dead, and White then led officers to the location of the remains.

Investigators with the Scioto County Prosecutor's Office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Scioto County Sheriff's Office are assisting detectives in the investigation.

Douglas Lee Hunt, 33, is also being questioned in the case. Hunt is White's boyfriend.

Multiple search warrants are being executed.

The body will be taken to the Montgomery County Morgue in Dayton, Ohio for positive identification and an autopsy.

Charges are expected to be filed after consultation with the Scioto County Prosecutor.

ORIGINAL STORY 11/13/16
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The body of a six year old boy has been found in Portsmouth Sunday, according to Portsmouth Police.

It happened in the area of Mabert Road.

Police say they had been looking for the young boy for several months.

We have a crew on the way to the scene.

Keep clicking WSAZ Mobile and wsaz.com for the latest on this developing story.




 
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