Jacob Gibson, 6, Dies From Beating by Parents, Police Say; Belt Buckle and Wire Hanger Used Against Kid

Police report this morning that 6-year-old Jacob Gibson died on Sunday, not quite a week after the horrific beating he received at the hands of his parents.

Benny Gibson, 49, and his wife, Jennifer Edna Paul, 37, remain in jail -- now suspected of killing, as opposed to merely brutalizing, their little boy.

As we reported on Wednesday, this family had been on the radar of Child Protective Services since 2005 with both Jacob and a younger child, Velladine, taken from the home -- and later returned -- at different times.

Last Monday, just after 1 a.m., police and paramedics responding to home in the 7100 block of North 19th Avenue found the boy barely clinging to life, with severe injuries to his body and head.

A doctor at Phoenix Children's Hospital pointed out to police that some of the wounds appeared to have been made with a belt buckle. One blow had left a clear imprint of the buckle on the boy's skin, records state. A wire hanger had also reportedly been used against the boy.

At first the parents gave conflicting stories to police: The dog dragged him down the stairs, he was beat up by a cousin, he had a rough game of soccer.

Cops say Gibson admitted to beating the boy with the belt and buckle, but said it had been his wife who hurt the kid's head. Paul, meanwhile, tried to put the bulk of the blame on Gibson, who she said also occasionally withheld food from the boy as punishment.

Coming so soon after last month's mind-altering child-abuse story of Ame Deal and her final trip to the box, the nearly equally messed-up case of Gibson and Paul makes Phoenix look like some kind of hell for children.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.