2-year-old died from blunt impact, possible strangulation, officials say

Boy found unresponsive at Orlando motel

Local 6 News at Noon
Local 6 News at Noon

ORLANDO, Fla. – A 2-year-old found unresponsive at an Orlando motel died of multiple blunt impact injuries with evidence of strangulation, according to the medical examiner's office.

Deputies said Justin Polk was found unresponsive Monday at the Countryside Inn at 606 Lee Road.  He was taken to Florida Hospital South, where he was pronounced dead.


No further details about the boy's death were immediately known.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Justin was in a hotel room with his mother, her boyfriend and two other children when one of the adults called 911 around 9 a.m. Monday to say that Justin was unresponsive.

Earlier Wednesday, a judge determined that the boy's siblings, a  3-year-old and a 1-year-old, will remain in Department of Children and Families custody.

"They are severe enough to lead us here today, that coupled with the passing of their sibling," said Kristi Gray of DCF.

At a DCF hearing, the judge said there was probable cause for the children to be placed in a shelter or with their grandparents instead of the mother. DCF said it will determine if the grandparents are deemed sufficient to care for the children, but in the meantime, they will remain in state custody.

The biological father of Justin was also in court, and a judge ordered the father and the two other children to go to grief counseling.

The mother of the 2-year-old, Merrissa Anderson, 22, said in court that the father of her 3-year-old didn't visit his daughter.

Local 6 spoke to a woman on Tuesday who said she saw the mother with her three children in the complex Sunday afternoon and saw noticeable bruises on one of the children.

"His face was black and blue, and deep yellow and the baby's eyeballs were bloodshot red," said Shelby Emerick. "And I asked the mom, I'm like, 'Oh what happened to your baby's face?' She goes, 'Oh, the baby fell.' And I'm like, 'No ma'am, that's not a baby fall.'"

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.