When he smiled, the bright light of Zyair Worrell's soul radiated from his big brown eyes. On Wednesday, that light was extinguished, apparently by a trusted adult blind to the beauty and promise of the 2-year-old boy.

Zyair, a victim of child abuse, was pronounced dead at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, police said. His 23-year-old mother and her 21-year-old boyfriend, whose names had not been released as of Thursday evening, were taken into custody.

According to a police source, Zyair's mother was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, and her boyfriend, who is not the child's father, was being held on a prior matter while investigators build a homicide case against him.

Police said doctors discovered that Zyair had a large laceration to his liver, bruising to his chest and ear, and an abrasion over his eye. The toddler also tested positive for THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Authorities first responded to the child's house on the 600 block of East Clementine Street in Kensington at 11:50 p.m. Tuesday. They were met by Zyair's mother, who held his limp body in her arms. The boyfriend was also there, police said.

Zyair's great-aunt Desiree Whitaker said her family was stunned by the death of her nephew's son.

"Who would want to do this to a child?" she asked. "My nephew is so heartbroken. I don't know what it's like to lose a child, but I feel my nephew's pain. He loves his children to death."

Zyair, nicknamed "Zy-Zy," was "a happy baby," Whitaker said.

"He loved to eat and he loved to play. He wasn't a bad child," she said. "With him, if you ask him to do something, like pick up a toy, he would do it."

Zyair's father did not respond to requests for comment, but shared his grief on his Facebook page.

"REST IN PEACE ZYair Worrell my last born son age 2 died today words can't even explain how I'm feeling I'm so num to the word my son didn't deserve to die . . . I love him unconditionally an I hope an pray to see u again look over me and your big brothers," he wrote.

"You are the joy of my life now you are gone . . . until we meet again . . . I love you son please take me in the right direction an show me the way I love u son."

Zyair's mother's Facebook page is full of photos and videos of herself and her son, with captions that read, "I love him so much" and "Omg never leave my side."




Staff writer Emily Babay contributed to this article.