DETROIT (WWJ) – A Highland Park couple has been charged with premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, child abuse and torture in the death of a four-year-old boy in their care.

The list of charges announced, Wednesday, by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy against Randy and Matilda Gardner, accused in the starving death of their nephew, Robert Byrd.

worthy kym abuse newser Prosecutor: Couple Starved, Tortured Child

(WWJ Photo/Stephanie Davis)

Worthy said it’s been very difficult taking in the facts of this case, which she described at “severe child abuse.”

“This child, upon presentation to the hospital, was three feet, one inch (tall), and weighed only 24 pounds, had multiple injuries, and the cause of death is starvation,” she told reporters.

Police said Byrd had been physically abused and burned, and had bedsores, bruises and cuts from a razor blade.  His body was found on Mother’s Day in a home police said had no beds, just blankets and a few pieces of furniture.

“The child in this case suffered… unspeakable acts, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in awhile. And we will prove in this case, beyond a reasonable doubt, that in fact these defendants were responsible for his death,” Worthy said.

Byrd’s aunt, who is his legal guardian, and his uncle were arrested Sunday.  If convicted, they could face life in prison without parole.

There were five other children in the home but police said they did not appear to have been abused.  They have been placed with Child Protective Services.

Comments (15)
  1. BROKEN HEART says:


  2. Kalepe says:

    I imagine there are a lot of other family members and friends who couldn’t help but realize that there was something seriously wrong in that house. Yet they kept their mouths shut. I think they should all be prosecuted. This is just ridiculous and incredibly tragic. There is no punishment severe enough.

  3. Erica says:

    It hurts my heart to think of what this baby boy went through in his short life. I wish I could have took him in and showed him what it was like to be loved and be cared for. I wish this on every case I hear on child abuse. When does this madness stop? It’s heartbreaking. So many people out there who want to have children and can’t and they would gladly open their homes and love these poor babies. There is no punishment appropriate for what cruelties were inflicted here. They deserve a slow, painful death.

  4. Tears in My Eyes says:

    I am a 41 year old male with tears in my eyes. How can someone do this to a helpless child. Children look to adults for comfort and care and this poor little boy got none. If the people left in charge of his care did not want him, I understand that. But, why make an innocent child suffer. The punishment needs to fit the crime.

    1. Nanette says:

      well said!!!

  5. Ashley says:

    These people are why there should be a death penalty in every state!!!! Life in prison? They probably won’t even get that and if they do they won’t serve it.

    1. rachel says:

      I agree completely…its amazing how lax child abuse punishments really are..they should A. be locked away for life or B. sentenced to death child abusers and pedafiles are the lowest of the low in my eyes!

  6. Nanette says:

    Wow. This breaks my heart!!! How could any human do this to a child? I guess they are far from being human!!! They should be starved and tortured just like they did to that poor innocent little boy who was entrusted to them!! Absolutely disgusting!!!

  7. Nicole Rogers says:

    I’ve been living in Az now 4yrs. For me to hear about this news from Detroit the city where I was born and raised. It doesn’t surprise me but it does hurt me. I have a 4 yr old son and all I could do was think about how they would have to lock me up for hurtin someone who did something 2 my child. I hate watching the news because something is always happening to out children. I currently want to throw up and can’t stop crying from hearing this news. A 4yr old child better yet a child of our future period. This is sad the world is slowly ending with murders and hatred. Its only going to get worser. Where was the rest of the family and why didn’t the other kids say anything. Something is really sick and wrong with this picture. You get back what you give out in this world. So I hope this couple is ready for the pain they are getting ready to feel. Its called Hell on earth!!!!

  8. bluebell says:

    An eye for an eye….

  9. april anderson martin says:

    I am shocked and sicked by this unspeakable act I grew up with Randy Gardner I never in a millionj years would of thought he would do something like this my thoughts and prayers go out to the remander of the family

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