Ocala man arrested after toddler dies from severed spine, deputies say

Travis Thompson, 25, held in Marion County jail

25-year-old Travis Thompson (Marion County Sheriff's Office)

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A 25-year-old Ocala man arrested Thursday was accused of first-degree murder in the death of a toddler earlier this year, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The child was brought to an emergency room in critical condition on May 3. She was pronounced dead after many attempts to save her life, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators with the agency’s Major Crimes Unit believe Travis Thompson physically abused the toddler while she was in his care, resulting in the child’s death.

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Thompson claimed he and the toddler were in separate rooms when she was injured and said that he found the child unconscious after he heard a loud noise. The man waited 30 minutes for the child’s mother to arrive before beginning a drive to the hospital, deputies said. During the trip, the woman had Thompson call 911 after she realized the toddler stopped breathing.

The medical examiner’s office on Sept. 1 determined the cause of the toddler’s death to be “traumatic injuries to the victim’s torso with a severing of her spine and bleeding behind her organs,” a news release states.

Thompson was taken into custody Thursday for questioning, yet maintained that he didn’t know how or why the toddler died. He was arrested and taken to the Marion County jail that evening, where he’s held without bond and faces a charge of murder while engaged in aggravated child abuse, records show.

No other details have been released.

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Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.