Crime & Courts

Zaiden, 2, was severely underweight when cops found his body bound, facedown in his crib

Wichita police discuss parents’ arrest in child’s death

Wichita police officer Charley Davidson gave details about a case involving the death of a child. He spoke at Friday's briefing. (April 12, 2019)
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Wichita police officer Charley Davidson gave details about a case involving the death of a child. He spoke at Friday's briefing. (April 12, 2019)

Zaiden Javonovich, 2, was facedown in his crib with his pajamas tied around his neck when Wichita police found him dead earlier this month, according to a court document unsealed Thursday evening.

On April 11, a neighbor called in a domestic violence situation at the mobile home where Zaiden’s family lived. His parents, 22-year-old Brandi Marchant and 28-year-old Patrick Javonovich, were outside when police arrived.

Inside the home, police found Zaiden and his 4-month-old brother, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The circumstances about Zaiden’s death were made public for the first time Thursday, hours after the Kansas Department for Children and Families released a summary of its handling of his case.

Both times the DCF checked on Zaiden the agency closed its investigations without finding child abuse or neglect. As recently as November, a social worked noted Zaiden and his brother appeared healthy, according to the DCF summary.

The unsealed court document, a probable cause affidavit, shows the children were severely underweight and had signs of abuse.

Zaiden was 14.9 lbs, a little over half what he should have weighed. Cuts on his face suggest his head was forced down by someone pushing on the back of his head, according to a medical examiner.

His side was black, blue, purple and green and his body was in the early stages of decomposition.

The arms of his pajamas had been tied in a knot near his throat. Marchant told police investigators that she would tuck his arms inside his pajamas and tie the sleeves in a knot around his neck to keep him from using his arms to crawl out of his crib while she was resting.

She placed him facedown in the crib Wednesday evening, she said. She didn’t go to bed until 6 a.m. Thursday, slept all day, didn’t get up to check on the children and didn’t know her child was dead.

Zaiden’s 4-month-old baby brother weighed only 8 lbs. He was so malnourished that he couldn’t control the weight of his head and had a temperature of 94.9 degrees, the court document says.

The 4-month-old’s ear and jaw were bruised and swollen. Two of his ribs were broken and had been for 10 to 14 days.

The injuries appeared to be from abuse and neglect, a doctor said in the court document.

Neither parent claimed responsibility for the sad state the children were in.

Javonovich said he hadn’t checked on the children since he came home from work Thursday.

Javonovich and Marchant both said in separate interviews with police that they had been feeding the children regularly.

When a detective checked the father’s phone, he found a text message sent at 2:44 Wednesday afternoon by Marchant, saying she had fed him.

“I am losing it. I need to stay somewhere. Zaiden just won’t stop. I can’t even watch (expletive) tv.”

DCF investigation findings

A year and a half before police found 2-year-old Zaiden Javonovich dead in his crib, his mother was investigated for “making homicidal and suicidal statements in the presence of children,” according to a report released by the Kansas Department for Children and Families on Thursday.

The DCF completed its investigation into Zaiden’s death on Thursday, finding it was caused by physical abuse or physical neglect. The Wichita Eagle obtained the report through an open records request. A previous request was denied because the department hadn’t completed its investigation.

The short DCF summary of the department’s involvement with Zaiden, is less than a page in length and mentions two incidents.

The earliest report about Zaiden came in November 2017, when he was 8 months old. The DCF investigated emotional abuse following an allegation that Brandi Marchant, Zaiden’s mother, had made homicidal and suicidal statements in front of her children.

Marchant, 22, and Patrick Javonovich, 28, are Zaiden’s biological parents but were not married. Court records show Marchant has two older sons and Javonovich has an older daughter.

One of the older children reported that the homicidal statement Marchant made mentioned Zaiden, according to the DCF summary.

The DCF found the allegation was unsubstantiated and closed the case.

A year later, the DCF received a report about Zaiden’s baby brother when he tested positive for marijuana at birth.

“Field staff determined it could not be investigated as child/abuse [sic] neglect because medical officials did not indicate the child’s health was negatively impacted by marijuana usage,” the summary states.

DCF field staff closed the investigation into abuse or neglect and opened a Family In Need of Assessment Infant Positive for Substances case.

A social worker met with the parents later that month and reported that Zaiden and his baby brother “were both observed in the home and appeared healthy.”

The parents and DCF completed a federally mandated plan of safe care that day. In a follow-up visit, Marchant completed a DCF safety plan.

The case was closed Jan. 14.

Zaiden was found dead by Wichita police on April 11, 2019. His baby brother was taken to a hospital in critical condition. A separate request for information about his brother was denied by DCF. In a rejection letter, DCF spokesman Eric Smith said the department can confirm it received a report of alleged abuse and is investigating.

Marchant and Javonovich have been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in Zaiden’s death.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.


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