Dad Killed 5-Year-Old Son for Eating Father’s Day Cake, Officials Say

June 27, 2019 Updated: June 27, 2019

A Milwaukee man was arrested in the slaying of his 5-year-old son after he apparently ate his Father’s Day cake.

Prosecutors said Travis Stackhouse told police he punched his son in the stomach and face on Friday, June 21, because he got “upset that others were eating” his Father’s Day cake, Fox6 reported.

The boy suffered a laceration to his sternum, bruising to both eyes, and a cut lip, he said, according to report.

He first told police he saw his son “somersaulting down the stairwell,” adding the boy didn’t appear to be injured. Before the fall, the boy and another child were playing with a Nerf basketball upstairs, he said.

Paramedics were called to his home at 2 a.m. on June 22, and they said the boy’s injuries were consistent with a fall, according to the report.

The child’s 6-year-old brother told officials that the boy didn’t fall down the stairs, saying Stackhouse hit the boy in the stomach and back.

A later autopsy revealed that the child suffered from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, and his death was classified as a homicide.

A criminal complaint said that when his girlfriend came home that day, they went outside. When they went inside, they found three children, including the 5-year-old, eating his Father’s Day cake.

The complaint added that Stackhouse said his girlfriend fell asleep on the couch and he went out with friends. Upon returning, his girlfriend told him she noticed something wrong with the 5-year-old and was on the phone with 911, the Fox report said.

Stackhouse was re-interviewed by police, according to the complaint cited by the station. He first said the boy fell down the stairs and eventually admitted to punching the child in the stomach and face after he ate the cake.

Stackhouse said he had one piece of cake, and he “was upset that others were eating it.”

The man also told them that his girlfriend warned him “not to hit the children so hard,” the Fox affiliate report stated.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that as police interviewed Stackhouse, they noticed that he didn’t know the birth dates of any of the five children he had with his girlfriend. He also could not spell out their names.

On June 26, he was charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in prison.

Other details about the case are not clear. He is currently being held on $25,000 bond.

Child Abuse in the United States

An estimated, 700,000 children are abused in the country every year. Around 1,670 children died due to child abuse in the country in 2015, according to the National Children’s Alliance.
In the same year, children advocacy groups served 311,000 cases of child abuse around the nation, whereas 683,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect.
Reve Walsh and John Walsh speak during The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, the Fraternal Order of the Police and the Justice Department’s 16th Annual Congressional Breakfast at The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington on May 18, 2011. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

“Households in which participants suffer from alcoholism, substance abuse, or anger issues demonstrate higher occurrences of child abuse as compared to households without,” according to Psychology Today.

Child abuse is about actions that cause harm but it can also be about inactions that cause harm and that falls under neglect.

“Physical abuse involves non-accidental harming of a child by, for example, burning, beating, or breaking bones. Verbal abuse involves harming a child by, for example, belittling them or threatening physical or sexual acts. Emotional trauma can result from several forms of abuse,” reported Psychology Today.