FAREWELL FOR A ‘SU­PER­HERO’

Mourn­ers gather at 4-year-old Malachi Law­son’s fu­neral

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By McKenna Ox­en­den

The lam­i­nated comic book blared “FI­NAL IS­SUE” in thick, black font.

A young boy dressed in a cow­boy out­fit is on the front with speech bub­bles around him of­fer­ing comfort to mourn­ful read­ers. “Heaven is cool!” and “hey I’m okay.”

In­side the col­or­ful book, peo­ple could read how “su­per­hero Malachi Law­son” loved Paw Pa­trol and Mickey Mouse. They saw pic­tures of the 4-year-old and his fam­ily.

And they read a sim­ple, hope­ful line: “Re­mem­ber … an an­gel never dies.”

Mourn­ers gath­ered Tues­day to praise Malachi Law­son, whose beau­ti­ful smile warmed friends and fam­ily,

but whose tragic, bru­tal death shocked and sad­dened the city. More than 100 peo­ple filled Bal­ti­more’s Mount Zion Apos­tolic Faith Church, many clutch­ing the col­or­ful comic book, as they sang and danced and sobbed.

Malachi’s body was found in a Bal­ti­more dump­ster on Aug. 3, end­ing a search that be­gan one day ear­lier. His mother, Ali­cia Law­son and her wife, Shatika Law­son, are in jail with­out bail on nearly a dozen charges in­clud­ing in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter, child abuse and ne­glect, ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments filed in court.

Malachi was full of life and get­ting ready to start prekinder­garten in Septem­ber, his grand­mother said. He loved danc­ing, his fa­vorite color was blue.

“This young man had a pur­pose. He has a pur­pose. We are gath­ered in this place be­cause only he could bring us to­gether.”

His smile ra­di­ated hap­pi­ness and love.

“I was an only child, but I was happy and play­ful,” Malachi’s char­ac­ter says in the comic book. “I loved to clap and sing.”

But now he lay in a tiny white cas­ket, with gold ac­cents. Red and white flow­ers flanked each side.

Malachi’s love car­ried through to the peo­ple at­tend­ing his fu­neral at the West Bal­ti­more church. They stood and clapped and sang along to the songs, just as he loved do­ing.

A drum­mer sat nes­tled in a corner be­hind the al­tar play­ing up­beat tunes.

“Lift him up,” at­ten­dees sang. “Lift him, lift him, lift him higher.”

Peo­ple com­ing for­ward to praise the young boy some­times started speak­ing but quickly burst into song.

The Rev. Marvin McKenstry de­liv­ered the eu­logy, re­mind­ing fam­ily and friends that Malachi is the last book in the Bi­ble in the Old Tes­ta­ment, with only four chap­ters.

“The book is four chap­ters and Malachi had four chap­ters,” McKenstry said. “This young man had a pur­pose. He has a pur­pose. We are gath­ered in this place be­cause only he could bring us to­gether.”

Through­out the ser­vice, peo­ple dabbed their eyes and pat­ted each other on the back for comfort.

Sob­bing sounded through the church and by the en­trance, as peo­ple ex­cused them­selves from the ser­vice, over­whelmed with emo­tion.

Dur­ing the wake be­fore the ser­vice, Bi­ble verses were read aloud as fam­ily pro­cessed down the aisle: “I will fear no evil … I will be in the house of the Lord for­ever … Do not let your heart be trou­bled.”

“They say there is a rea­son, they say that time will heal, but nei­ther time nor rea­son will change the way I feel,” his grand­mother Ear­lene Code said in the comic book. “You’re so won­der­ful to think of but so hard to be with­out.”

The lit­tle boy pre­vi­ously was in foster care, au­thor­i­ties said, but had been re­turned to his mother’s care. The city Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices has pledged to con­duct a thor­ough re­view of his case and the de­ci­sion to re­unite him with the Law­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments, Malachi was burned in a bath, but nei­ther Ali­cia nor Shatika Law­son took him to get treat­ment out of fear he would be taken away from them.

Af­ter nine days, the boy died, and Ali­cia Law­son took a Lyft to dis­pose of his body in a dump­ster more than 10 miles away from their home, the doc­u­ments said.

Mul­ti­ple peo­ple and com­mu­nity groups have come for­ward to do­nate ser­vices and items for Malachi’s fu­neral and burial.

The Charm City East Moose Lodge 70 do­nated Malachi’s burial plot. Bev­erly D. Cro­mar­tie Fu­neral Ser­vice of­fered em­balm­ing ser­vices and do­nated a cas­ket. Other do­na­tions were made by the ceme­tery and a lo­cal printer.

A pro­ces­sion of over 20 cars led the way in the rain for about two miles to Wood­lawn Ceme­tery, where the boy was buried.

KIM HAIRSTON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Val Jenk­ins, right, em­braces Jill Jack­son, Malachi Law­son’s for­mer foster mother, at the 4-year-old’s fu­neral Tues­day.

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Melissa Law­son touches the cas­ket of her nephew, Malachi Law­son, on Tues­day at Mount Zion Apos­tolic Faith Church.

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