‘This baby had been suffering:’ Palm Bay police detail timeline leading to 10-month-old baby’s death

Mother may be charged with capital murder, police say

PALM BAY, Fla. – Palm Bay Police Chief Nelson Moya held a press conference Thursday to discuss what led to the arrest of a Brevard County mother Tuesday for the November 2020 death of her baby and how it was preventable.

Moya said the year-long timeline contains multiple instances in which the Department of Children and Families didn’t notify Palm Bay police of child abuse allegations made against Shanquila Beckham-Williams, 28, the mother of deceased 10-month-old Takhari Williams.

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“I believe in collaboration with every part of our system, and we have shown that, but I cannot stay silent when we identify a gap in the system,” Moya said. “I beg anybody, particularly those in leadership, particularly those that are in charge of processes, to really take a look at how we do business, so that as we truly collaborate in our criminal justice system, we can have a real delivery of justice to victims, especially when we can prevent them from becoming victims of murder or any other violent crime.”

On May 27, 2020, Palm Bay Police and DCF responded together to Shanquila Beckham-Williams’ home on allegations that the child “wasn’t thriving,” Moya said.

The chief said it was determined during that visit the child was not in danger, so a report was filed, and the case was closed.

DCF was back at the residence on July 25, 2020, but there was no answer at the door at that time. Moya said there was no evidence Palm Bay police were ever contacted about that visit or that any subsequent follow-up was conducted.

On Sept. 12, 2020, Palm Bay police, acting on another allegation against Shanquila Beckham-Williams, examined Takhari Williams with DCF personnel present. The child was recognized to be thin, Moya said, but Williams told investigators the child’s condition was a hereditary medical issue that affected all of her children, and once again the allegation was closed.

Another call came in about Shanquila Beckham-Williams’ alleged neglect of her children on Oct. 6, 2020, when Moya said she was made to form an action plan with Palm Bay police and DCF due to her number of prior incidents.

Moya described how Beckham-Williams arrived at a hospital the next day with Takhari Williams and allegedly directed more abusive behavior toward the child, but police were never notified, meaning nothing could be proven.

On Oct. 16, 2020, Moya said, DCF was notified of suspicious bruising on the baby but again said police were not notified and could therefore not speak to it.

“We have one shot at each allegation. The bruises heal, injuries heal, and so you cannot treat a pattern of alleged abuse as one case,” Moya said. “Each instance of alleged abuse has to be examined by our officers so that we can make an independent investigative decision based on what we see and the things that we’re trained to see on scene.”

DCF was back at Shanquila Beckham-Williams’ home on Oct. 18, 2020, to mandate a Child Protective Team examination of the child, Moya said. After multiple failed attempts to conduct the CPT examination, however, Moya said it never happened, which was another detail Palm Bay Police only learned in hindsight.

“She failed to keep her appointments on three separate occasions, and in an attempt to reschedule, failed again, and that CPT examination was never conducted,” Moya said. “We were not made aware.”

Records show 10-month-old Takhari Williams was pronounced dead the afternoon of Nov. 15, 2020. Following this, Moya said DCF “rolled hard” and took custody of the rest of Shanquila Beckham-Williams’ remaining children.

Moya said the infant’s death also spurred a months-long investigation at Palm Bay Police Department, culminating in May 2021 when the Brevard County medical examiner ruled the baby’s death a homicide, as the result of “battered baby syndrome.”

“Multiple contusions to the scalp, face and torso, and the subsequent postmortem examination autopsy revealed multiple internal injuries,” Moya said. “This baby had been suffering for some time.”

During the 90 days that Takhari William’s body was in the custody of the medical examiner’s office, Moya said the defendant never made an attempt to reclaim him, not even when contacted multiple times.

“That should speak volumes of the defendant in this case,” Moya said.

Investigators learned a 13-year-old girl accused Shanquila Beckham-Williams of sexual battery on Nov. 3, 2020, something DCF was aware of then yet Palm Bay police wouldn’t know until October 2021, Moya said.

Shanquila Beckham-Williams is currently being held without bond at the Brevard County jail, facing a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. Moya said charges could change.

“There’s a likelihood that this case, as it moves forward in the system, may be upgraded to capital murder,” Moya said.

A capital murder charge would mean Shanquila Beckham-Williams could face the death penalty or life in prison.


About the Author:

Brandon joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.