Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, and Orange Police Director Todd Warren announced today that Jamel Welch, 21, of Orange has been charged with murder in the death of four-year-old Laniyah Bloodworth of Orange.
Authorities said the charges were upgraded Friday after the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office received the autopsy results showing the child died from blunt force trauma.
The Regional Medical Examiner ruled the manner of death homicide.
Officials said on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, first responders were called to a home in the 200 block of Wallace Street in Orange on a report of an unresponsive child.
The little girl was transported to University Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2021.
Initially, Welch, the mother’s boyfriend who was babysitting, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after unexplained bruising was discovered on the child’s body.
Officials said he has since been charged with first-degree murder. He remains in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.
These are accusations.
All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877 TIPS- 4EC or 1-877-847-7432.
Calls will be kept confidential.