New York Daily News & Police Bureau Chief – Heartbroken relatives of the 11-month and 3-year-old boys found fatally stabbed in an overflowing Bronx bathtub say their mother, suspected of killing them, is obsessed with demons.
“They were beautiful children, and they did not deserve to die. It’s simple as that,” Beverly Hill, the paternal grandmother of 11-month-old victim Octavius Canada told the Daily News. “They were beautiful, and they had no reason to die.”
Cops believe the boys’ mother, Dimone “Brenda” Fleming, stabbed them to death, though an autopsy will determine if the children died of their wounds or from drowning. Fleming, 22, is undergoing psychiatric care and has not yet been charged.
Octavius and his 3-year-old sibling, Daishawn Fleming, were found repeatedly stabbed in the neck and torso Saturday night in a family shelter on Echo Place near the Grand Concourse in Mount Hope, police sources said.
Octavius’ father, Columbus Canada, 31, told police he had been staying in his car after getting into a fight with Fleming the night before. He returned home Saturday night to find the boys’ lifeless bodies.
Octavius’ great aunt, Casey Canada, said Fleming had been talking obsessively about “demons.”
“She thought the kids were devils. She said she was afraid of them,” said Casey Canada, who looked after both boys and raised their father, Columbus Canada, like a second mother.
But Casey Canada was baffled as to why Fleming would allegedly take her children’s lives.
“She definitely loved them, for sure,” Casey Canada said. “That wasn’t fake.”
Fleming clashed with both her own relatives and Canada’s family, Casey Canada said.
“There wasn’t a moment I was around her she wasn’t loving with the children — but with adults, she could change in a moment,” the great-aunt said. “She just snapped.”
Fleming’s father, Dwane “Dee” Fleming, voiced skepticism about whether his daughter could have killed her children.. He also said he believes his daughter has postpartum depression, a condition the young mother had been hoping to treat.
“Dimone was going through some stuff,” said Dwane Fleming. “And my sister said she will take the kids and that Dimone is going to the hospital and we’ll get some help for that. Dimone wanted to get treatment for herself.”
He told the Daily News he’d tried to give his daughter religious instruction as he rambled at length about his views, including how demons “got kicked out of heaven.”
Dimone Fleming was raised by a family friend while Dwane Fleming was incarcerated and her mother was out of the picture, according to the father. She later spent time in a group home after repeatedly running away from her father as a teenager, he said.
A close friend told the Daily News that Fleming had been acting erratically and cutting off people she considered “blockages.”
“Brenda has been deep inside the Bible talking about Lucifer and s—,” said the woman, who asked not to be named. “She has been trying to find the people who are ‘blocking’ her or stopping her from succeeding.”
The friend said on Friday, she asked Fleming if she would be coming to celebrate the friend’s birthday the following day, to which the woman responded, “if there is a tomorrow.”
“I said, ‘Stop talking like that’ and she said, ‘No … I’m for real, I’m real stressed out,’” the woman recalled.
The two would often talk about their problems, but Fleming’s behavior was becoming increasingly distressing.
“We would talk about her being depressed, feeling she wasn’t a good enough mother, and she was sad and overwhelmed,” she said. “She would talk about [bringing] the kids to her mother’s or leaving them with their fathers, but she never said anything about harming those children.”
The woman did not hear from Fleming after their last concerning phone call, but she “brushed it off.”
Cops were initially called to the scene because Fleming was acting erratically, but they didn’t find the young children — who were submerged in a bathtub covered with clothes and a bedsheet, sources said.
“She was incoherent and mumbling, naked on the bed. The bathtub water was on. The tub was filled with clothes,” said a source.
A family friend told the responding officers that the two children were in the care of Canada, police said Saturday.
The oven was also on and someone inside the home said, “she’s trying to burn the house down.”
Octavius’ father arrived and told officers he wanted to go with Fleming to the hospital, according to sources. Cops said he could not do so.
Minutes after police left, the dad found the youngsters, then desperately tried to revive one of them before officers returned.
“The father ran out [of the] apartment. He was screaming ‘Help me, help me, help me!’” said neighbor Shannon Holyfield, who lives two doors down. “Another neighbor from upstairs came down. He walked inside of the apartment. He started screaming and crying.”
Holyfield said the distraught dad ran out of the apartment with the boys in his arms.
“And they were naked,” she said. “And there was blood around the boys on their necks, their backs, their stomachs. They were already lifeless.”
Fleming’s ex-boyfriend said he’d never believed she had mental illness, but struggled with her temper. They last spoke in September.
“She always wanted someone to take care of her and things,” said Dustin Bryan. “And at first I thought she had her s–t together because she got a job, she has a car. Daishawn was properly dressed, wearing good clothes.”
The couple dated from the end of 2019 into 2020.
“He’ll cry and she’ll yell, and I’ll just tell her, like, you don’t have to yell at him,” Bryan said. “I never witnessed her put her hands on him. Never. Sometimes her tone can be kind of too aggressive for him. But back when I was dating her, he was a year old.”
Columbus has three other children from prior relationships who were all close to the murdered two boys, his mother said.
“How is he going to tell them? They’ve gotten close to these other children, to their brothers,” Hill said. “They can’t understand.”
“[Columbus] is not doing well at all. He can’t get over the fact that she did this. He don’t even understand what happened. Who would do something like this?” Hill added. “The whole family is like, ‘Why?’ If you got a problem, you could have said something to somebody. You don’t have to f—ing kill the kids.”
The dad showed up at the shelter surrounded by family members Sunday, but declined to comment to reporters.
Canada works dutifully to support his children, according to Hill, who added that his family barely had the chance to get to know know little Octavius.
“They liked to play with cars, they liked to play with trucks, they liked video games. They liked to go to school and play with crayons,” Canada’s sister Shakira Canada said of the two slain boys. “They liked to go to the park. And now they can’t do any of that.”
Casey Canada helped raise her nephew Columbus, describing herself as like a second mom to him, and enjoyed visits from him and the two slain boys.
“Octavius would never cry — and you know babies, they cry about everything. … He was a happy-go-lucky, happy baby,” Casey Canada said. “Daishawn just wanted to play with toys. When he came over, he just wanted to play with blocks.”
Hill said she didn’t want to speculate about Fleming’s possible motives.
“I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is that my grandkids are f—ing dead,” she said.
“They shouldn’t have died. That shouldn’t have happened. And her a– ain’t dead. She should have killed her own f—ing self.”
Top Feature Photo: Dimone Fleming with her older son who died, Daishawn Fleming – Obtained by Daily News