Matthew Ponomarenko Parma, Ohio man calls 911 to say he beat his 5-year-old son, Jax to death with a baseball bat after hearing voices. Had prior case of child endangerment.
Matthew Ponomarenko, 31, told a dispatcher that he killed his son, Jax, Thursday afternoon at a home in Parma, WOIO reported, citing a portion of the 911 call.
‘What’s the problem? Tell me exactly what happened,’ a female dispatcher asks.
‘I just killed my son,’ Ponomarenko replies.
‘What do you mean you just killed your son?’ ‘I’m hearing voices,’ Ponomarenko responds.
Ponomarenko then described how he fatally beat his son with a baseball bat, leaving his body on the living room floor.
Up to about four minutes into the call, a seemingly disorientated Ponomarenko announces, ‘They’re here,’ before hanging up on the dispatcher.
The father had been recently released from a behavioral health center and was not taking his medication, an uncle of Jax’s, Johnathan Cherni, told WOIO. But he appeared to be OK prior to the slaying, he added.
‘My mom dropped him off today,’ Cherni said. ‘He was fine; he was vibrant, completely content, and all of a sudden, we get hit with all this.’
Ponomarenko was taken into custody at the home and has been charged with aggravated murder. The father is set to be arraigned Monday.
‘There’s just no words for it,’ Donald White, who lives near the home, told WKYC. ‘It’s just heartbreaking.’
Other neighbors set up a memorial for the boy in front of the home.
Prior case of child endangerment
‘I wanted to bring something a little 5-year-old would like,’ Amanda Bohach said. ‘So I got him a stuffed bunny and some colorful flowers.’
Of note, child welfare officials had been to the home as recently as 2019, WEWS reported.
A Cuyahoga County spokeswoman told Cleveland.com its Department of Children and Families closed out an investigation into Ponomarenko after working with the family on parenting skills.
In 2017, Ponomarenko pleaded no contest to a child endangerment charge and was ordered to pay fines after pleading guilty. Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan declined to release further details about the case, Cleveland.com reported.
In a July 20, 2017 incident, police found Ponomarenko and his then-1-year-old son naked near Pleasant Lake Boulevard and York Road. The elder Ponomarenko’s mother called police and said her son was having a mental breakdown and was swearing and running after people who drove past him, according to a Parma police report.
Ponomarenko left Jax in the middle of York Road and yelled at random people, according to a citation. He would later tell officers he took meth, psychedelic mushrooms and PCP, the report says. Police arrested him and took him to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.
DCFS placed Jax in the custody of an undisclosed relative at the time of the incident.
Ponomarenko eventually pleaded no contest to child endangering and was found guilty. He was ordered to pay fines.