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WAYCROSS, Ga. -- A Waycross woman has been charged with murder after police say she punched and kicked a 3-year-old boy to death

Police in Waycross responded to the Mayo Health Clinic Saturday after Maliachi Smith, 3, was brought in unresponsive. The child later died, according to the Waycross Police Department.

An examination at the GBI crime lab revealed the child had suffered multiple bruises consistent with being abused over a period of time.

The Waycross Police Department investigated the case as a homicide and arrested 42-year-old Karena Fay Warden. Friends and family say the boy was a guest in Warden's home for approximately two months and had come to Waycross from Rockford, Illinois with other children.

Lindee Dixon is the General Manager of Sandy Creek Apartments where Warden lives with her husband. Dixon says the other children are Warden's grandchildren.

"She was so excited about all of them coming down here and being here for two months it's just, she's not the type," said Dixon.

Warden is charged with murder and first degree child cruelty. The warrant says Warden punched and kicked the child in the head and body causing bruising to his entire body. It also says the boy was denied sleep and had been choked. Dixon says the statements are hard for her to believe.

"Knowing Fay and seeing her interact with all the kids, I never saw her raise a voice or nothing," added Dixon.

She says she doesn't understand how this happened, but says she believes the child was autistic and would harm himself.

"Just banging his head on the floor when he was throwing the temper tantrums and of course we have concrete slabs," said Dixon as she described what she saw while spending time inside Warden's apartment.

The Georgia Division of Families and Children Services has not said why the child was in Warden's care. Dixon believes the boy was Warden's daughter's godson.

Warden is expected to appear in court at 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Ware County Clerk of Courts.

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