Rodricus Williams

Rodricus Williams (Family photo)

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. -- As the fruitless search was on for a missing 2-year-old boy with an infectious smile, authorities believe that all along he was buried under 400 pounds of concrete in a trash can.

The boy's father and his girlfriend were arrested Thursday, two days after the couple concocted a story about the boy falling into the Charleston Harbor near a popular tourist destination, authorities said.

On Wednesday, human remains were found that matched the description of the boy the couple had given. The body was wrapped in 32-gallon trash bags encased in concrete in a bin so heavy a farmer had to hoist it onto a county vehicle using a backhoe.

Authorities are awaiting DNA to confirm that it is Rodricus Williams, but they left little doubt they believe it is by charging Roger Williams and Grace Nichole Trotman with homicide by child abuse.

Police are still trying to figure out how the boy was killed, but Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said he had been beaten in the past and they were serving a hospital with search warrants to get more information on the treatment he received.

"During interviews, there was some talk about the child being struck on occasions," DeWitt said. "Our interpretation is, it was not by accident."

The saga started late Tuesday, Rodricus was reported missing to Charleston police. A woman said he possibly slipped through the railing at the Battery downtown, a tourist area and Civil War site known for its antebellum homes on the city's peninsula. The boy's mother was supposed to pick up Rodricus there, but police said he was never even in the area.

Officials and rescuers searched the historic harbor into the night by boat and helicopter, calling on nearly a dozen agencies to scour the sea and land for any sign of Rodricus. The boy's father, Roger Williams, and his girlfriend, Grace Nichole Trotman, seemed to cooperate at first.

By 5 a.m. Wednesday, the search was abruptly called off. Later that day, interviews with Williams and Trotman led them to an abandoned mobile home in a rural area some 55 miles northwest of Charleston, where the remains were uncovered.

Trotman has been cooperating with police while Williams has given investigators false information, DeWitt said.

Trotman has been charged by Charleston police with filing a false report and her bond was set at $250,000. Another judge denied bond for both on the more serious charges later Thursday.

Williams had stopped speaking with police and asked for a lawyer. He did not qualify for a public defender and it was unclear if he had an attorney yet. Trotman did qualify for a public defender but it was unclear if one had been assigned.

Police think Rodricus was killed in Trotman's quiet neighborhood in Summerville, about 30 miles northwest of Charleston.

Norm Reece, who lives across the street, said Trotman had rented the one-story, vinyl-sided home for less than a year. Reece said she kept to herself and was often seen with Rodricus and her two other small children.

"She was very private," Reece said. "It's just a shock."

Deputies walked along the neighborhood streets Thursday, asking about the couple. Reece said he saw deputies remove several evidence bags from Trotman's home.

"It just can't be understood," said Reece, shaking his head. "A 2-year-old, innocent child - if you don't want them, give them to social services. Don't kill them."