A 21-year-old Orange man now has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 4-year-old girl late last month.

Charges were upgraded against Jamel Welch on Friday, after the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office received the autopsy results showing that Laniyah Bloodworth died from blunt force trauma.

The regional medical examiner ruled the manner of death homicide.

Jamel Welch (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Jamel Welch (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

Welch, who was dating the child’s mother and was babysitting, was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a child, after unexplained bruising was discovered on the young girl’s body.

On Dec. 30, first responders had been called to a home on the 200 block of Wallace Street in Orange on a report of an unresponsive child — Laniyah was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

A GoFundMe campaign organized by Annette Bloodworth, who said she is the child's grandmother, had raised a few thousand dollars for the child's funeral expenses as of Sunday.

"She was filled with Love, Joy and Happiness. there are no words to describe the way we are hurting. She was a talented ball of light who would light up any room she walked in. She Did not deserve to leave this world brutally the way she did," Bloodworth said of the young child, in the online fundraiser's summary.

Welch remained in Essex County Jail.

Anyone with potential information on the case can contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877 TIPS- 4EC or 1-877-847-7432.


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