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Death in Mount Jackson being investigated

By Joe Beck

MOUNT JACKSON -- Police are investigating a death in the 6200 block of Railroad Street that was reported at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Police Chief J.D. Fadley said that the case remains under investigation but had no announcement to make as to the cause of death or other details surrounding the case.

"During a preliminary investigation, we have determined there's no safety issue for the community," Fadley said Thursday.

Fadley said the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office and the Woodstock Police Department also are participating in the investigation, which he described as "still in its early stages."

A neighbor who identified himself only as Brian said the person who died was a boy five days away from his seven-month birthday. Brian said that he and his mother-in-law babysat for the family on several occasions.

"He was a very joyful boy. Always had a smile on his face," Brian said of the child. "That's what people should remember about him. He was a very happy baby the seven months he got to live."

He said the boy died at 2 a.m. Wednesday and that both parents lived with the child.

"They're very good people," Brian said.

His mother-in-law, Elois Stafford, said the family lived "literally" above her on the second floor of the two-story apartment building. Stafford bowed her head and spoke softly as she described her feelings about the boy's death.

"He was just starting to talk," Stafford said. "He was just starting to crawl. He had a beautiful soul."

Stafford said she learned of the death from her husband, who awoke her at 6 a.m., about four hours after authorities were notified of an emergency at the residence. Stafford said her husband works a night shift with the child's mother.

"He was at work when she got the phone call," Stafford said, referring to when the mother was notified of the child's death.

Stafford said he had seen nothing about the child during the time she watched the child to lead her to think he was at any risk in his home.

She said the boy's mother would seek her out to babysit "as she needed me."

"She would come and knock on the door," Stafford said of the boy's mother.

Stafford said police were on the premises Wednesday for more than 12 hours, from about 2 a.m. until after 5 p.m.

She heard nothing about a cause of death, Stafford said.

"I just want to know what happened," Stafford said. "I haven't a clue."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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