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‘I didn’t get to say goodbye to him’: Mother opens up about 4-year-old Jacksonville boy’s death

Foster parents accused in death of James Reese Jr.

Foster parents accused in death of James Reese Jr.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mother of a 4-year-old Jacksonville boy who police said was murdered opened up Sunday about the tragic loss.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to him,” said Karissa Garcia, the mother of James Edward Reese Jr. “I miss him. I just wish I could have my baby back.”

Garcia spoke with News4Jax three days after two people were arrested in connection with Reese’s death. Alex Pino, 30, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, and Michelle Sipko, 38, is charged with manslaughter and child neglect.

At the time of Reese’s death, Garcia said, she did not have custody of her children, including Reese, because she was the victim of domestic violence. Garica’s four children have spent more than a year in foster care, living with relatives -- the most recent being Pino and Sipko.

On April 15, Reese was brought to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“All I got told was James was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery,” Garcia said. “All I know is he had a skull fracture and he had multiple injuries to his body.”

Reese died April 21 from his injuries. On April 22, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office database, his death was determined to be a murder.

“I started screaming and hollering,” Garcia recounted.

Garcia said the last time she talked with Reese was on Zoom days before he was taken to the hospital.

“I did notice he was crying. He really didn’t want to speak to me and he had a lump on the side of his head,” she said. “They said I couldn’t keep my kids safe, so they wind up removing them and placing them here and there, then this is what happens. You place them somewhere else, and now my son is gone.”

Videos and photos are all Garcia has left of Reese.

“James is very sweet, loveable, had a bright smile,” Garcia said while talking with News4Jax on her front porch. “He was very happy, and we are going to miss him and never forget him.”

Garcia said she hopes to regain custody of her other children, ages 8, 6 and 1.

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