“He touched so many people’s hearts. He just loved to play. He would smile and just brighten up your day.”
These were the words spoken to a reporter this week by 23-year-old Natasha McGee about her son, Jayden Maurice McGee. After celebrating Jayden’s first birthday on February 28, his family is now planning to say their final goodbyes to the gorgeous little boy.
“Jayden was a high-spirited baby,” Natasha said. “He was loving, and caring, and just a precious little baby boy whose innocent life was taken.”
How could this have happened?
Sadly, Jayden’s name has been added to an ever-growing list of children murdered by their mother’s boyfriends.
I’ve covered plenty of these kids in the past, including Charlette Dawkins, Christian Paz, Marion Jester-Montoya, Blaise Spoerl, Logan Cline, Autumn Horak, and Zymere Perkins, who was the subject of last week’s episode of the Suffer the Little Children podcast.
Just before 5:00 AM on Saturday, March 7, Natasha, who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, went to her job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She left one-year-old Jayden in the care of the man she had been dating for about two months, 35-year-old Christopher Eugene Knight of nearby Fairfield. Chris has children of his own, so Natasha considered him trustworthy. A little before 7:30 AM, Chris called Natasha at work to tell her the baby was barely breathing. Since they were speaking via video chat, Chris turned the phone toward Jayden so Natasha could see his condition.
“I looked at my baby, and I told [Chris] to call the ambulance because… I could tell something was wrong with my child,” Natasha said. “And he was like, ‘Nah, you come home and take him to the emergency room.’”
Natasha rushed home, where Chris opened the door for her and then sat down and, according to her, “kicked his feet up on the bed like it wasn’t anything.” Natasha found little Jayden in his car seat, taking shallow, labored breaths, so she took him to her car and drove a short distance away before calling 911 herself.
“He was fighting to breathe,” she told another reporter. “I knew he was still alive, but he wasn’t alert.”
Birmingham Fire and Rescue responded to her location and whisked Jayden to the Children’s of Alabama emergency department, where Natasha was told the gravity of her son’s condition. The tiny little guy suffered from a fractured skull and a blood clot on the brain, and medical staff told his mother they had to do surgery immediately. They removed a large portion of Jayden’s skull to allow his brain room to swell and thereby reduce pressure on his brain.
Doctors told Natasha that the outlook for Jayden was dire. “They said the damage was done before they did surgery,” she said. “I knew my baby was gone right then and there, but they kept doing tests, and I let them keep trying, and I kept praying that he would get better.”
Members of Natasha’s family stayed with her at the hospital, praying with her as she sat by Jayden’s bedside for the next three days. “I was telling him, ‘Hang in, baby boy. Be strong. I was telling him I was sorry.”
Brain activity tests showed that Jayden had not and could not survive his injuries, and the unimaginable decision was made to remove the baby from life support. He was pronounced dead early on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 10.
“I cried so hard,” Natasha, who hasn’t seen Chris since taking Jayden to the hospital, said. “I thought I was going to die.”
Christopher Knight was arrested at an east Birmingham motel on charges of aggravated child abuse and booked into the Jefferson County Jail at 3:13 PM. On Thursday, those charges were upgraded to capital murder, and he is being held with no bond.
He is also being held on unrelated previous charges. In September of 2017, he was arrested in Birmingham on charges of breaking and entering a vehicle. He pleaded guilty to the crime, and in January of 2019, he was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. He was scheduled to appear in court in May of 2019 for a probation review, but he didn’t bother to show up, so a failure to appear warrant was issued for his arrest.
But wait… there’s more! On January 7 of this year, another warrant was issued for Christopher Knight, this time for theft of property in connection with an incident that occurred in November of 2019 at KFC in Center Point. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office requested his probation be revoked.
Comments on various Facebook posts from people who evidently know Chris include the following allegations:
- He worked at Wendy’s on the parkway.
- He has a history of living in hotels; in fact, the address where he and Natasha were staying together at the time of Jayden’s injuries belongs to an InTown Suites Extended Stay facility.
- He is alleged to have beaten at least one young girlfriend in the past.
- One woman said this about him: “I chilled with his ass one night and didn’t like his vibe and I dipped.”
“It’s just been a nightmare,” Natasha said of losing her only child. “Waking up today knowing that I can’t see him again, I’m just sad.”
She lamented, “I wish I could swap places with him. I wish it was me instead of him. I wish this never happened to him. I wish I never met that man.”
Jayden’s funeral is planned for Wednesday, March 18 at Living Faith Baptist Cathedral on Old River Road in Bessemer. A memorial fund has been set up by Natasha’s uncle, Lamont Blue, and his wife, Carie, to help pay for Jayden’s funeral expenses.
Natasha wants to spread Jayden’s story as a cautionary tale. She trusted Chris, she said, because he had children of his own and had watched Jayden before. She wants all young women to know that they can’t trust just anyone with their babies. “Don’t leave your child with anybody,” she said, “because things like this happen.”
Sources: WVTM13, AL.com, People, Facebook