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3-year-old child's death from injuries ruled homicide


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2000

TAMPA -- A 3-year-old boy died Friday night as a result of injuries to his abdomen, Tampa police said Monday.

Jacob Neace was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital after his mother, Roxanne Polkowski, 25, noticed he was having trouble breathing. Jacob died just minutes after arriving at the hospital, Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin said.

"At the time, it was an unexplained death, so the medical examiner performed an autopsy on Saturday," Durkin said. "The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was blunt trauma to the abdomen."

Durkin said the child's body also had numerous bruises. The medical examiner ruled Jacob's death a homicide.

James Jackson York, 28, lives with Polkowski, Jacob and his 5-year-old sibling, both children from a previous relationship, at Waterman's Crossing Apartments, 1506 River Drive. Since losing his job two weeks ago, York had been Jacob's daytime caregiver while the older child went to school and Polkowski went to work, Durkin said.

Department of Children and Families spokesman Tom Jones said officials there have never investigated Polkowski for child abuse. However, he said the DCF in Polk County ordered York to stay away from a child involved in a 1994 abuse case there. Polk County DCF officials could offer no further information on that case.

Meanwhile, Jones said Jacob's 5-year-old sibling has been taken into protective custody while Jacob's death is investigated.

Durkin said Polkowski gave police the following account: She came home for lunch about 2 p.m. Friday and did not notice anything wrong with Jacob. At 4:30 p.m., York called her at work and told her Jacob was vomiting and complaining of stomach pains, so she came home. She put Jacob to bed and tried to comfort him, but his condition worsened. At 8:10 p.m., she called 911. By 8:48 p.m., Jacob was dead.

Homicide detectives are investigating the case. No one had been charged or named as a suspect late Monday.

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