Man abused 3-year-old for weeks before child died, West Melbourne police say

Suspect was caught trying to make his way to West Virginia, police say

Joshua Andrew Manns, 25 (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A man is now locked up in Brevard County after he brutalized a 3-year-old child for weeks leading up to the boy’s death, according to police.

Joshua Andrew Manns, 25, was arrested in Georgia on June 29 and has since been brought back to Brevard County to face charges. Manns made his first appearance before a judge on Friday, July 9.

An affidavit for an arrest warrant reveals more details of the child’s death and Mann’s suspected involvement.

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Investigators said that the child’s mother left the boy in Manns’ care at a home in West Melbourne on the morning of June 11 when she went to work. She told officers that she spoke with Manns around 6 p.m. and had a brief conversation about possibly going to look at a puppy after work, according to the affidavit. The mother said she then spoke with Manns again about an hour later and the man advised her not to drive adding that the 3-year-old was “not good,” records show.

Police said Manns eventually told the mother that the boy was dead or likely dead and claimed the child had drowned. The mother rushed home while calling 911, records show. The dispatcher made contact with Manns in an effort to provide CPR instructions to him but the 25-year-old stated that he was no longer in the area, according to investigators.

When police arrived they said the child was already dead. Officers said they observed the boy’s face was swollen and had obvious signs of trauma. They also said they found several open containers of children’s Tylenol and cold compresses which appeared to show that someone tried to treat the child at home.

Investigators said they also found a note from Manns which claimed he had a seizure while giving the boy a bath and went unconscious, adding that when he came to the child was floating in the tub. The note also said he tried CPR but that “nothing worked.”

According to the affidavit, officers tried to use Manns cellphone to locate him, but it had been turned off. However, they said they were able to determine that he had likely left the home where the boy was found at least an hour prior to calling the child’s mother.

Records show the medical examiner later determined that the child had likely died sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., several hours before Manns first made contact with the child’s mother.

An autopsy later determined that the child had been abused for at least three weeks prior to his death, according to the affidavit. The medical examiner said there were significant signs of hemorrhaging and bruising that were in various states of healing, according to police. Officers said the autopsy also revealed the child had a broken rib, a broken tooth, damage to his esophagus and at least seven stab wounds to the head, at least three of which showed signs of healing. Records show there were no signs of drowning.

Police said a Department of Children and Families investigator had gone to the child’s daycare and learned that the child had been observed with “suspicious injuries” that had not been properly reported to DCF or investigated. Among these incidents, according to the affidavit, included the child telling a daycare worker that Manns had burned him and would hit him.

Joshua Manns, 25 was arrested June 28, 2021 in Georgia. (WKMG 2021)

Investigators said Manns was arrested in Tift County, Georgia while trying to get to West Virginia where some of his family resides.

Manns is being held without bond on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect with great bodily harm.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.