PUBLISHED: 07:31 EST, 4 September 2012 | UPDATED: 09:03 EST, 4 September 2012
A nine-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder after he allegedly beat a 14-month-old baby to death.
The body of Taquan Willis was found by a relative last Sunday morning at his mother Ashley Johnson’s home in Cahokia, Illinois.
Cahokia police said the nine-year-old was sleeping in the same room as the baby when he allegedly beat him to death. They are believed to have been related.
Murdered: Taquan Willis, 14 months, was found beaten to death last Sunday. His funeral was held today
Scene: The unidentified nine-year-old is alleged to have beaten the baby boy to death in this Caholia home
He was charged with murder today in juvenile court.
Relatives of Taquan said he was in the home with his two brothers, ages two and three, and a friend of his mother’s, along with her boyfriend, a 12-year-old boy and the nine-year-old charged in the death.
According to the St Louis Post Dispatch, one of the adults in the home heard a groaning sound coming from the bedroom and when she went to check on the children she found Taquan’s limp body.
The 14-month-old was then taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Heartbroken mother Alisha Johnson said of her son: ‘He was just a happy baby. He would bring a lot of joy to you. He smiled and danced’
Minor: The boy, nine, was charged with first-degree murder in juvenile court for the death of Tarquan
After the funeral service at New Jerusalem Pentecostal Ministries in Centreville, Taquan’s father, Todd A. Willis Jr, told the Dispatch he would always remember two special things about the boy.
‘I loved his smile and the way he poked his lips out to give me a kiss,’ he said after helping to carry his son’s small white casket with white flowers and blue ribbons to a white hearse.
Mother Alisha Johnson has paid tribute to her son on her Facebook page – referring to him as King Quan – in the days since his death.
‘My King Quan has the most beautiful smile in the world…when u see him he just lights up ur [sic] day.’
She told the St Louis Post Dispatch: ‘He was just a happy baby. He would bring a lot of joy to you. He smiled and danced.’