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Parents speak out about seven year old's death

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: May 12 2013 10:06:30 AM CDT
Updated On: May 13 2013 05:12:54 PM CDT

7-year-old boy found hanging inside home

READING, Pa. -

Reading police are investigating how a 7 year-old boy ended up dead, hanging from a closet rod with a curtain around his neck.

In an interview with 69 News, the victim's parents insisted the death was a freak accident.

"I keep telling myself this a dream, that this is not true," said mother Renee Robinson. "But I won't wake up."

It's a Mother's Day tragedy for Robinson, now left with the grim task of burying her son -- and the mystery of how exactly he died.

"She said, 'He's gone; my baby's dead," said father Chris Boggs. "And I said, 'Please don't say that.'"

It happened Saturday afternoon at the family's home on South 17th Street in Reading. According to police, Josiah "JoJo" Boggs was found unconscious in a closet. A curtain was tied around his neck, authorities said.

Boggs' parents said JoJo and his older brother were playing in a back room, using the curtain as a rope swing.

"My oldest boy said he tied that up there," said Robinson. "He was swinging first, then he said, 'JoJo, it's your turn.' When JoJo swung, he said JoJo was still holding on. He said he ran out of the room, and then he ran back in the room with JoJo, and he tried to help JoJo, then he came out and got us."

Berks County District Attorney John Adams said he doesn't believe a crime took place, but police are asking tough questions.

"We have an active investigation to determine whether this was a tragic accident or was there something criminal that took place," he said.

It's still not even clear exactly how Boggs died. The coroner said an autopsy was inconclusive. More testing will be done and that could take at least another four to six weeks, the coroner said.

Robinson dismissed any suggestion her son killed himself.

"My son wasn't depressed, and my son wasn't suicidal," she said. "Him and his brother were playing, and it was a freak accident. That's all it was."

Boggs was a student at 16th and Haak Elementary School in Reading, according to his parents.

Throughout the day on Sunday, neighbors left candles and cards in front of the family home.

"That shocked me, to find out that a seven year-old was in there," said Jordan Stehman, who has lived nearby for two decades.

Boggs' family is planning a vigil at the house at 418 S. 17th St. at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The public is invited.

Compounding the tragedy, Boggs' parents were set to renew their vows next weekend.

Robinson said the family also lost their previous home to a fire several months ago.

She said they were packing for a move to Atlanta when Saturday's incident happened.