A Philadelphia man at the center of an Amber Alert last week has been charged with murder and related charges after investigators say he killed the mother and grandmother of his 3-year-old child. Authorities say he then took the toddler to a hotel near Philadelphia International Airport, where the boy was found safe.
District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the murder charges Friday against Byron McDonald, 27. McDonald was also charged with possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy, and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, on April 9 around 1 p.m., McDonald allegedly drove past the home of Tamara Aikens, the 50-year-old grandmother of the child, in a red Chevy Malibu, firing multiple gunshots out the passenger window of the car and killing the woman in front of her house. The incident at Aikens’ home on the 2500 block of North Bancroft Street was captured on video, the District Attorney’s Office said. The car was registered to 25-year-old Morgan Braxton, Aikens’ daughter and the mother of the toddler.
Two days later, a missing person’s report was filed with Philadelphia police for Braxton. The next day, on April 12, a relative contacted police, reporting “fearing for Braxton’s safety due to a relationship with McDonald,” according to a release from the District Attorney’s Office.
Officers then visited the home on the 4200 block of North Eighth Street, where Braxton and McDonald lived with their 3-year-old son. There, they found Braxton with gunshot wounds to the head, and she was pronounced dead that morning.
Pennsylvania State Police issued an Amber Alert for the boy, who was not in the home. Authorities found Braxton’s red Chevy Malibu — and subsequently, McDonald and his child — at the Aloft Hotel near Philadelphia International Airport.
Braxton’s credit card was used to rent the hotel room, which was booked under McDonald’s mother’s name, the District Attorney’s Office said. McDonald and his mother were then taken into custody.
The two remain in police custody. McDonald’s mother is also charged with possession with intent to deliver, and endangering the welfare of a child, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office said.
“Our hearts are broken for the toddler who lost his mother and grandmother to such unspeakable horror,” Krasner said in a statement. “What this child needs right now is beyond the scope of the criminal justice system to deliver in a courtroom. We as a city, as a community, owe a collective responsibility to the children most traumatized by violence. It is on all of us to make sure this child, and all children touched by violence, are not defined by the worst day of their young lives.”