Neighbor says Fayetteville 7-year-old’s death is ‘heart-wrenching’

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Neighbors are saying the death of a 7-year-old Fayetteville boy “heart-wrenching.”

Fayetteville police responded to Sisal Drive regarding a 911 call about an unresponsive child around 4:45 a.m. Wednesday. The child, identified as Ethan Bates, died at the scene, police said.

The child’s mother, Evie Loretta Bates, 24, was charged with felony intentional child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury. She’s being held under a $1 million bond.

Saint Michael Edwards, 23, was charged with felony intentional child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury. He’s being held under a $1 million bond.

Police said they could face more charges depending on the autopsy results. An arrest warrant said Ethan had multiple bruises and possible broken bones.

Crystal Smith said the boy next door would do sweet things like check the mail for her.

“He was just so helpful and such a lively little boy,” Smith said. “He was always so happy and always smiling.”

Smith can’t believe the news that her sweet neighbor is gone.

“I can’t even fathom this. I’m flabbergasted,” Smith said. “I really don’t understand. I’m trying to figure out exactly what happened. Why did all this happen?”

“It’s one of those things that stick with you for a lifetime, and those memories cannot be erased. And you just feel very upset and very sorry for the child and for the family of the child, as well,” added Fayetteville police officer Jeremy Strickland.

Evie Bates and Saint Michael Edwards (Fayetteville police)

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