Court employees in Gaston County want to give a boy who was starved to death two years ago a proper send-off: a gravestone marker.
Malachi Golden, 4, was found dead in May 2015 in the care of his stepfather, Thomas Allen Cheeks.
Police arrested Cheeks several months after Malachi’s death, and charged him with first-degree murder.
But over the course of a trial, which also involved Malachi’s mother being charged in connection to his death in an attempt to cover for her husband, the boy was buried without a gravestone marking the site. A cluster of flowers and stuffed animals left by a detective were the only markers indicating the boy’s resting place, according to multiple media reports.
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Shellie Colgate, deputy clerk for the Gaston County Court, decided to fix that. Colgate was heartbroken to see the boy had been buried without a gravestone, and decided to raise money to purchase one, multiple media reported.
“He didn’t have anybody to care about him,” Colgate said, according to the Gaston Gazette. “He didn’t have anybody to stand up and be his voice in this life, so in his death I thought the least we could do is give him a marked grave. At least we can honor his memory for once.”
By Thursday, the courthouse had raised enough to buy a basic marker, and were in contact with a funeral director, WSOC-TV reported.
Cheeks was convicted Thursday of starving Malachi. The boy, who suffered from a condition that caused him to have seizures, had allegedly been living in a cluttered room.
“It’s the worst physical neglect I have seen on any person,” Colgate told WSOC, saying she would go home and cry every day during the trial.
Now, she hopes, a gravestone will be Malachi’s proper remembrance.
LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS