Boyfriend arrested in Orlando toddler's death watched him suffer for days, detectives say

Johnathan Pursglove arrested on charges of aggravated manslaughter

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - A second arrest has been made in the death of a 2-year-old Orlando boy who police said was "tortured."

Orlando police tweeted Friday that Johnathan Pursglove, 25, was arrested on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child in the July death of Jayce Martin.

Jayce’s mother, Victoria Toth, 24 was arrested earlier this month on the same charge.

Investigators said Jayce was found covered in bruises and medical examiners believe he was possibly tortured before his death, according to an affidavit for Toth's arrest.

Orlando police and fire responded to 814 Bethune Drive on July 18, where Jayce was pronounced dead. Authorities spoke to Toth, who had called 911, and her live-in boyfriend, Pursglove, who was performing CPR on the boy when medical crews arrived, according to officials.

Toth worked at Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs during the day and Pursglove took care of her son while she was at work, officials said. She said they had been together since February or March. 

Toth, who investigators said often referred to her son as "brat," told authorities she and Pursglove were the only caregivers for Jayce and Pursglove was the primary disciplinarian, according to the affidavit. She said Jayce regularly misbehaved and was disciplined daily, investigators wrote in the report.

According to the arrest affidavit, Toth said when she came home from work on July 15, Jayce said he didn't want to play and didn't feel well. The next day, after she came home from work, Jayce was lethargic and started vomiting. On the day of his death, Jayce had been lethargic, vomiting and ill for three days, officials said.

Toth told detectives on July 17 that her father told her to seek medical help for the toddler, but she didn't. It wasn't until Toth said she found Jayce unresponsive on the bedroom floor, lying facedown in a pool of vomit at 6:32 a.m., that she called 911, according to the arrest affidavit.

"Had Johnathan not disregarded Jayce's life or shown a wanton and reckless disregard for his safety and wellbeing, Jayce would be alive today," detectives wrote in the warrant for Pursglove's arrest.

The medical examiner said Jayce died of an internal infection when his bowels entered his body, likely caused by a "sucker punch" or blunt force trauma to the stomach. Within eight to 12 hours of suffering the injury, Jayce's caregivers would have known something was seriously wrong, a doctor told detectives.

The report said Pursglove didn't want Toth to take Jayce to the doctor because he knew medical personnel are mandatory reporters of suspected abuse.

"Over a period of two to three days, Johnathan continued to watch Jayce suffer and by doing so, tortured him, in that he was unable to walk or eat and excessively vomited," detectives said in the report.

Jayce's biological father, Robert Martin, said he was shocked by the OPD detective's report to the Florida State Attorney's Office.

"My family is absolutely devastated from the findings in the report and we will stop at nothing to get justice for him," Martin said.

He issued a statement Friday afternoon.

"Im just going on the record to make a statement. I think that what is happening right now is heartbreaking and devastating for me and my family. We want nothing but justice for my son. He didn't deserve what happened to him. I think him being out on bail is no good and I also believe that $2,5000 for a homicide charge is a joke. We will stop at nothing to get justice for Jayce Alexander Martin. I have no farther (sic) comments," Martin said.

An official from the Department of Children and Families said the agency's only involvement with the family prior to Jayce's death was a domestic violence incident involving adults.

"The alleged abuse and neglect of Jayce Martin is reprehensible, and I am disgusted that a parent would harm their child. DCF is coordinating with the Orlando Police Department to investigate Jayce’s tragic death and we will hold anyone responsible for his death fully accountable under the law," DCF secretary Rebecca Kapusta said.

Both Toth and Pursglove's posted bond and were released from jail.

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