Police Say 13-Year-Old Boy with Down Syndrome Was Starved to Death by His Mother Inside Hotel Room

Police are looking for the mother, Serena Starkey, who is charged with murder



In the hours after the 13-year-old boy died in March, Alabama police began investigating the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding his death.

Birmingham police are now searching for the boy’s mother, Serena Starkey, 53, who is charged with murder in connection with his death.

Around 7:20 a.m. Saturday, March 2, police say first responders were dispatched to an Extended Stay America in Birmingham, Ala., where Starkey and her teenage son, Aston Starkey, were then living.

Aston, who police say had Down syndrome, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. There, homicide detectives launched an unclassified death investigation.

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Separately, Shelby County’s Department of Human Resources — an umbrella agency over Child Protective Services — also began investigating the child’s death, the Birmingham Police Department confirmed in a press release to PEOPLE.

Then, earlier this month Aston’s autopsy report came back revealing that he had died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration, complicated by neglect. The manner of his death was deemed homicide.

Living in Birmingham, Ala. in the year before Aston’s death, the mother and son moved often, AL.com reports.

The 13-year-old – who was born in Florida — was not attending school in Birmingham and may never have been examined by a doctor, the outlet reported, citing authorities.

Starkey has been on the run since the murder warrant was issued earlier this month, police allege.

Those with information about Aston’s death or the whereabouts of his mother, Serena Starkey, may call the Birmingham Police Department's Homicide Unit at 205-254-1764 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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