PARMA, Ohio - A Parma father turned himself in to police Saturday night, claiming he had committed a crime. His 22-month-old son's body was found in the trunk of his car shortly after.
Just a few minutes earlier, around 8:30 p.m., the boy’s mother, Nicole Lawrence, asked police for a welfare check after her son wasn’t brought back to her by the boy’s estranged father. A few minutes later, the boy’s father, 41-year-old Jason Shorter, walked into Parma police headquarters with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds on his arms and chest.
He approached the attendant, raised his right arm and muttered a short sentence.
“I’m turning myself in,” Shorter said in the newly-released surveillance video of the bizarre incident.
According to Parma police, Shorter said he wanted to turn himself in because he had committed attempted murder and suicide. Throughout much of the video, Shorter’s statements are often muffled. However, there are occasions in which he can clearly be heard answering the officer’s questions.
“Where is the child?” the officer asked Shorter.
“Out in the car,” Shorter replied.
Shorter kept his arms raised and hands pressed on the glass as frenzied officers ran outside and circled his vehicle in the visitor’s parking lot. Once they popped open the trunk, they reported finding Nicholas inside. He was unresponsive and not breathing, police said. It appeared to police that the boy had been stabbed in the chest.
Despite their best efforts to revive the child, Nicholas was pronounced dead at the hospital later that night.
Meanwhile, inside the police station, officers and paramedics tended to Shorter’s wounds and ushered him to the hospital. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday evening and was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated murder. Shorter was arraigned late Wednesday afternoon and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Shorter’s defense attorney told the court that Shorter has never been charged or convicted of a felony.
According to juvenile court documents, a lengthy custody battle encompassed a majority of the 22-month-old’s life. Less than three months after giving birth to Nicholas, the boy’s mother filed suit to gain custody. The boy’s father, Jason, fought the request. The suit, which started in October 2016, was finally settled in early May 2018 when both parties finally reached an agreement.
As part of the agreement, which was approved by the court on May 7, Lawrence would have primary custody of the toddler. Shorter would have visitation rights on the weekends. Shorter is accused of murdering the boy on the first weekend he was watching over him.
Parma police said the motive behind the child’s murder remains under investigation. It is also unclear where the boy was killed.