Man raised concerns before 4-year-old’s murder

Father of siblings: Complaints of criminal activity at home where boy murdered

An undated courtesy photo of Giovanni Mejias.


GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman is opening an investigation into how a state agency handled the case of a 4-year-old boy murdered in Gaines Township.

Authorities have identified the victim as 4-year-old Giovanni Mejias.

The Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Giovanni died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen and the manner of death was homicide. Several older injuries in various stages of healing were found during the autopsy.

The 25-year-old suspect in the homicide, who is the boyfriend of Giovanni’s mother and not his father, is awaiting arraignment on murder charges. Jail records identify him as Elis Nelson Ortiz.

The mother, Sonja Hernandez, had five children.

Court records show that David Onstott and Hernandez had a tumultuous relationship that did not survive despite having three children together. But he said he came to love the 4-year-old boy fathered by another man.

“When Giovanni was born, I was there. I cut his umbilical cord,” Onstott said. “I raised him for about a year-and-a-half or so.”

He said the 4-year-old was like a brother to his other children.

“He was a good little kid. Good little kid,” Onstott said. “Full of life. Joked around a lot.”

But Onstott and the woman did not stay together and she gained full custody.

He says things were OK until she met the man now in Kent County Correctional, Elis Nelson Ortiz. Onstott said after they were together he saw cuts and bruises on her children.

“I’ve called the cops have been involved, CPS multiple times have been involved, the schools have been involved,” Onstott said.

There were calls that children were left alone at the Cutlerville mobile home. Onstott said the children were afraid of the boyfriend and their mother.

“Sonja was well aware. She was well aware of what was happening, because she told him that was his responsibility to whoop them,” said Onstott.

He said he blames authorities for failing to act.

“I’ve told them multiple times that something’s going to happen, eventually. Something’s going to happen and nobody’s listening,” said Onstott.

Tuesday morning, authorities were called to a mobile home on N. Green Meadow Street SE near Division Avenue and 60th Street on a report of a child who wasn’t breathing.

Emergency responders revived the 4-year-old boy, but he died at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Authorities say the suspect was watching seven children under the age of 11 in the home at the time of the incident. It’s unclear if Child Protective Services has taken those children into custody.

The Office of Children’s Ombudsman is opening an investigation into how CPS handled prior involvement with the boy’s family.

Capt. Bruce Ivie told 24 Hour News 8 the Kent County Sheriff’s Department responded to multiple CPS-related calls at the home within about the last three years.