Fort Wayne man formally charged in beating death of toddler

Mitchell Vanryn was formally charged with murder, domestic battery, and aggravated battery today in the death of 2-year-old Malakai Garrett.

Posted: Dec 6, 2017 11:18 PM
Updated: Nov 22, 2019 1:08 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Mitchell Vanryn was formally charged Wednesday in the beating death of 2-year-old Malakai Garrett. 

Vanryn was charged with murder, aggravated battery, and domestic battery.  

The quiet, north side neighborhood near Palmetta Court is heartbroken, and still processing Malakai's death. 

"To know someone would take their fist to a completely defenseless 2-year-old is just unreal," said one resident who didn't want to be identified. 

Stacey Pickelheimer, who lives next door to the home where it happened said she's shocked. 

"All the neighbors always say that when something happens, you know, you feel outraged and sickened that anyone could do this to any child," Pickelheimer said. 

Now, Vanryn is behind bars, and facing formal charges. Many neighbors said, "Good." 

"I'm a Christian, but I hope they put it to him as far as they can, because that little boy had no chance," a resident said. 

Other neighbors are grieving the loss of the toddler. 

"We would pass and drive by, our kids would walk by, and we would see him out playing in the little pool in the summer time. It's heartbreaking," said Patti Witte, another neighbor. 

Some believe Malakai's mother should also be charged. 

"I just can't believe the number of reports of previous, possible abuse and injuries to the baby, and that she would never take any further actions or steps to ensure the safety of her child," said Paula Rhinesmith. 

For now, family and community members are fighting for justice for Malakai, and making sure no more babies have to experience pain. 

"It's just sad. There's so many other cases, and so many other people that this could happen to, and this should have never happened," Rhinesmith said. 

Vanryn's court date has not been set yet.

Tune into WFFT on-air and online for continued updates on this investigation. 

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