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‘I’m Hearing Voices’: Man Told 911 He Beat Autistic Son to Death with a Baseball Bat and Didn’t Know Why


Audio published Friday shows a man readily admitting to 911 that he beat his son to death with a baseball bat. Police in Pharma, Ohio say that’s Matthew J. Ponomarenko, 31, confessing to murdering Jax Ponomarenko, 5.

“I just killed my son,” said the man identified as the defendant.

“What do you mean you just killed your son?” said the dispatcher.

“I’m hearing voices,” said the defendant.

When asked for the child’s age, he appeared to give age six, but authorities said age 5. He said Jax was dead in the living room. The dispatcher asked why he killed his son.

“I don’t know,” said the suspect.

He seemed to be breathing heavily through the call. The suspect did not answer the dispatcher’s question about when this killing happened. He merely said, “I’m shaken.”

As seen on his mugshot, defendant Ponomarenko had a tattoo of his son’s name over the left eyebrow.

Police say the murder happened Thursday afternoon, according to WOIO. Jax’s uncle Johnathan Cherni told the outlet the child was autistic, and used a tablet to communicate. He described the murder as sudden. Matthew Ponomarenko was recently let go from a behavioral health center and was off medication, but seemed okay.

“My mom dropped him off today,” Cherni said. “He was fine, he was vibrant, completely content, and all of a sudden, we get hit with all this.”

Defendant Ponomarenko pleaded no contest to a 2017 child endangerment case, according to Cleveland. Authorities said he left his son, then 1, in the middle of a road, and yelled at people. He told cops he took substances such as meth and PCP, authorities said.

Neighbor Amanda Bohach brought a stuffed bunny and flowers for Jax’s streetside memorial.

“The kid never got to experience his first day at school and Easter being right around the corner,” she told WJW. “I just thought it was awful.”

[Screengrab via WOIO]

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