Crime & Courts

Toddler's grandmother saw no signs of abuse

Hours after her 15-month-old grandson died, Cindy Miles sat with her laptop and turned on a video of him, taken about five months ago.

"I like this video because it best displays his personality and what he was like," Miles said.

As she watched the screen, Evan Coen smiled, bounced up and down and giggled as his mother played with him.

Later, Miles said, "Here's this small boy who was so happy and full of life, and his life's been taken away from him."

After she showed the video, the maternal grandmother opened a special box, given by Wesley Medical Center.

It contains locks of her grandson's hair and impressions of his foot and hand.

"It's not much to have left once" — her voice caught mid-sentence —"once you put him ... in the ground."

Wichita police said Evan died Wednesday after suffering skull fractures and other injuries that had occurred at different times.

His mother's 25-year-old live-in boyfriend remained in jail on suspicion of murder and child abuse but has not been charged by prosecutors, records show.

Miles, 47, said she has endured other traumatic events over her life.

"I've always said the one thing I've always been grateful ... I haven't had to deal with the loss of a child... . And then here I am.

"I don't know, God, if I can do this.

"Of everything that I've been through." She paused.

"It's just senseless. He didn't have to die. No kids have to die."

Miles said her daughter Kaci "is brokenhearted" over her son's death.

Miles said she last saw her grandson about a week before this past Monday, when someone called 911 to report that he was having trouble breathing.

An ambulance took him from his house in the 6500 block of West Renee Court, near Ridge Road and Maple, to Wesley Medical Center. He came to the hospital in "very critical" condition, police said.

Miles said she didn't see signs of abuse.

"Was there something I missed, something I should have seen? I blame myself," she said.

Miles had been spending less time around her grandson in recent months because she has been busy with other things, including work on a master's degree.

"You think there's all the time in the world," she said.

Miles, who is director of community and campus relations for Butler Community College, said it is ironic that as a member of Leadership Butler Class of 2009 she will be involved in a project to develop a facility in Butler County to help abused children.

As for how Evan was injured, she said, "I don't know what the truth is."

Authorities placed two other children from the house — a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl — in protective custody Wednesday night, police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

The 6-year-old is the son of the boyfriend who has been arrested, and the 3-year-old is Miles' granddaughter, she said.

Evan's father, Alan Coen, 28, died in March when his car left the road and overturned in a creek in Kingman County, she said.

Evan will be buried next to his father, Miles said.

Thursday morning, on the electronic social network Twitter, Miles wrote that she had been planning "to take Evan to get a Halloween costume. He won't be getting a costume but instead, a new outfit for his funeral."

Although he was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon, his body was being sustained so that his organs could be donated to severely ill children, Miles said Thursday afternoon.

She said she told her daughter: "You can save six to eight other mothers that pain" of losing a child.

"Why not have something positive come from this?

"This child can save others, and he can live on through them."

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