Father admits beating his 21-month-old daughter to death

A New York father has pleaded guilty to killing his toddler daughter, who was an eye cancer survivor, with a wooden baseball bat before burning her body and dumping her remains in an upstate waterway.

Ryan Lawrence, 25, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in a plea deal with Onondaga County prosecutors.

Lawrence admitted beating to death his 21-month-old daughter Maddox outside Syracuse in February.
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Authorities say he burned the girl’s body in a fire pit, then tied the remains to a cinder block that he dumped in Onondaga Creek in Syracuse.

The child’s body was found by police divers about 36 hours after an Amber Alert was issued for the missing child.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Maddox on February 21 after Lawrence disappeared with her.

Maddox’s mother, Morgan Lawrence, told police her husband was supposed to pick her up from her job at the Destiny USA shopping mall the night of February 20 but instead left the car and keys for her in a parking lot.

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When she returned home, Morgan Lawrence said, she found a message from him that indicated he might harm Maddox and himself.

She called police, touching off the Amber Alert and a massive search by several law enforcement agencies.

On February 22, police got a call from a thrift shop employee who recognized Ryan Lawrence in the shop in Baldwinsville, 10 miles northwest of Syracuse, authorities said.

Police found Lawrence walking on a nearby street, wearing a disguise, and took him into custody, they said.

He confessed and led authorities to his daughter’s body, TWC News reported.

Maddox had already beaten eye cancer, CBS 5 reported.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick the station in February that ‘she had been fighting a very unusual form of cancer, and all indications were that she was successful.

‘But it was expensive, the treatment, and it was time-consuming. If that contributed to her demise, I don’t know.’

Fitzpatrick told the station at the time: ‘Without going into too much detail, Ryan Lawrence’s statements allude to almost a sense of jealousy about the attention that this child was getting, as opposed to the attention that he was getting.’

Asked about Lawrence’s possible jealousy, his attorney Michael Vavonese told the TV station on Thursday: ‘What I can tell you about that is nothing whatsoever.

‘And what I’ve found and what I’ve looked into and what I’ve learned, with respect to this matter, indicates that was the situation at all.

‘It was more of a concern for the type of life Maddox may have experienced as she went on.

‘And again, those details I can’t get into at this point in time, but that was his concern, out of a love in his mind, for Maddox.’

Vavonese told TWC News: ‘He was a dutiful, caring and loving father for every moment of Maddox’s life up through the time this incident occurred.’

Prosecutors say the baby’s family agreed to the plea deal.

Lawrence will be sentenced next month to 25 years to life in prison.

Assistant district attorney Jeremy Cali told TWC News: ‘Finding out what had happened is certainly as tragic as it gets.

‘The family really articulated clearly today that to have him stand up in court and admit what he did was meaningful. They wanted to see that happen.’