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Police investigate death of 23-month-old boy; family holds vigil

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DENVER -- Police are trying to figure out what caused the death of a 23-month-old boy who was brought to a local hospital and was pronounced dead Wednesday morning.

Family and friends gathered Wednesday night outside the child's home to comfort each other.

Homicide investigators were called to St. Joseph's Hospital in a possible child abuse case. Questions and following up on the vehicle that transported the child to the hospital led police to an apartment complex just a few blocks away at 17th Avenue and Franklin Street.

Sources said the little boy lived in Apartment 108. Police aren't saying much about the injuries the child suffered. Family members say the toddler would have turned 2 in little more than a week.

"We just saw the baby last night and it was fine, walking around and he was fine," said Shaqua Yarber, a family friend.

Sobbing friends gathered outside the hilltop apartment complex Wednesday morning, shocked at the news that 23-month-old Javion Johnson had died.

"The baby was a happy baby," said Adrienne Thomas, Javion's aunt.

Earl Lampley, grandfather to Javion Johnson, holds up a picture of the 23-month-old who died this morning.

Earl Lampley, grandfather to Javion Johnson, holds up a picture of the 23-month-old who died this morning.

A picture from the toddler's grandfather showed him just a few days ago, smiling with his brother and sister.

'We just got back from vacation with him ... all of them," said Earl Lampley, the grandfather.

He said the death of his youngest grandson could have been prevented.

"This is the second incident ... one on the Fourth of July. I didn't say anything, but he had a burn on his leg and it was so deep -- you could see the flesh," Lampley said. "I didn't do what I was supposed to do; now he ain't here."

The grandfather said Javion had burns on his front and back legs. As Denver police searched the family's home, many just wanted to know what happened to Little J-V.

"Right now, we are investigating to see what the cause of death was," Denver police spokeswoman Christine Downs said.

Police are waiting for the coroner to determine how the toddler died. Friends of the family said the mother and her boyfriend love their children.

"She wouldn't hurt her own kids. She loved those kids. She was a hard-working mother," said Tiffany Mckinney, a family friend.

Police said they aren't sure when the coroner will be done with the autopsy, but they are still talking with family members and don't have any suspects.

Lampley said the boyfriend's brother is the one who took the child to the hospital and dropped him off there. Police are trying to locate the boyfriend, but there is no word on whether he is a suspect.

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