It's hard for Charles Henderson to look at old photos of his daughter Ja'Kyra. She died on January 15, 2012. She was just 4-years-old.
"I just miss her as a person...that's my own flesh and blood," Henderson told 12News Wednesday in an exclusive interview.
Tuesday, 31-year-old Stephen Odom was charged with "Injury to a Child" based on new information provided to Crimestoppers. Investigators say it will be up to prosecutors to decide if the charges should be upgraded to murder. The 4-year-old was found unresponsive at the Calder Woods retirement center in Beaumont where her mother worked.
"I didn't know what to think or what to believe. I just knew my daughter was gone and wasn't coming back," Henderson said.
Ja'kyra's autopsy revealed that her liver was compressed against her spine and was lacerated from blunt force trauma. Police say Odom was the boyfriend of the child's mother at the time, and was supposed to be watching Ja'kyra in the activty center while her mom worked. Ja'kyra's death was ruled a homicide, but no arrests were made.
Henderson said he only met Odom once, and said he never heard of any kind of abuse. Henderson describes his daughter as a quiet, well behaved girl but also as someone who wasn't afraid to speak her mind when she wanted. He can't imagine anyone hurting his little girl.
"It was like a nightmare I couldn't wake up from," he said.
In honor of his daughter, Henderson had her name tattooed on his neck. He says that way she'll always be with him.
Odom was released from the Jefferson County Jail Tuesday after posting a $100,000 bond. A date for his first hearing has not yet been set. Henderson says if Odom is convicted, he hopes he gets the maximum penalty.
Submit a news tip
Do you know of something that would be a good news story? Enter your email address and select "Submit" to send it to 12 News HD. You can also call the news tip line at 409-838-1212