On March 25, 2021, Matthew Ponomarenko, 31, called 911 and told them he had killed his 5-year-old son, Jax, with a baseball bat.
After giving the 911 operator his name and address, he tells her, “I just killed my son”. The operator asked more questions, Ponomarenko responded, “I am hearing voices”. When asked how he killed his son, he responded, “with a baseball bat”.
The 911 operator stood on the line with Ponomarenko until police showed up on the scene. (Ponomarenko stated his son was 6, authorities stated he was 5).
WOIO spoke to Jax’s uncle, Jonathan Cherni, who described Jax to be an amazing child. According to Cherni, Jax was autistic and used a tablet to communicate. Jax’s grandmother had brought him to his father’s house in the morning, “My mom dropped him off today. He was fine; he was vibrant, completely content, and all of a sudden, we get hit with all this” Cherni said. He also told WOIO that Ponomarenko was recently released from a behavioral center and was off his medication.
According to Cleveland Crime, a Cuyahoga County Spokeswomen stated the Department of Children and Families investigated the family; they closed the investigation in 2019. The family had to take parenting classes because of an incident that occurred on July 20, 2017. Cleveland Crime reported police had found Jax, 1 at the time, naked in the street. Ponomarenko’s mother had contacted police telling them “her son was having a mental breakdown and was swearing and running after people who drove past him.” Ponomarenko would later tell police he was on meth, psychedelic mushrooms, and PCP. He was arrested and brought to a hospital for treatment. A family member took custody of Jax. The case closed with Ponomarenko pleaded no contest to child endangerment, he was found guilty, and was ordered to pay fines.
Police took Ponomarenko into custody and was arraigned on March 29 in Parma Municipal Court.
The judge ordered Ponomarenko to be held without bond. His case is being sent to the grand jury, with a court date set for Friday, April 2, 2021.
The arraignment start at 00:47:40
Ponomarenko has plead not guilty and is awaiting trial.