An 8-year-old Texas boy was murdered Sunday morning at his Richland Hills home when he suffered “sharp force injuries to his neck and chest,” according to police and a ruling by officials with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Brenym McDonald’s death was ruled a homicide, and his grandfather was arrested in the case.
Richland Hills police have not released information on a motive for the killing.
The 8-year-old was a student in the Birdville school district. The district released this statement Monday: “Sadly, this was one our students. Campus staff have been processing this tragedy today and calling parents in the impacted grade level. We will have additional counselors on campus when students return.”
The Richland Hills police and fire departments were dispatched at about 8 a.m. Sunday to a home in the 3500 block of Labadie Drive.
When officers arrived, they found the child dead.
62-year-old Phillip Hughes, the child’s grandfather, was found about a block away from the house and taken into custody without incident, police said. Hughes faces a charge of capital murder of a person under 10 years old.
The boy lived in the home on Labadie Drive along with his grandfather and other relatives, Richland Hills police said. Someone in the home called 911.
Police found the suspected murder weapon, according to Sheena McEachran, a Richland Hills spokeswoman.
A neighbor told said Hughes is a military veteran.
“He was an Army veteran, and he did a terrible thing, but also … he had issues going back a long way and … it’s just a terrible tragedy,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Brenym’s great-grandmother Linda Hubbard said she and other family members drove to Texas from Missouri after hearing about the child’s death. Hubbard had last seen her great-grandson at Thanksgiving.
Brenym was “just a normal 8-year-old boy, full of life,” Hubbard said. “… He liked to cook, which we were excited about. My daughter had ordered him a chef’s hat with his name on it and an apron. He brought that with him so he could help in the kitchen. He just had fun.”
Hughes was arraigned Monday and his bond has been set at $2 million.
Hughes’ only previous criminal conviction in Tarrant County was for driving while intoxicated in 2020, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, according to court records.
Anyone with information about the homicide can reach detectives by calling 817-616-3788 or emailing CID@richlandhills.com. Those who wish to remain anonymous can go to 469tips.com or call 817-469-TIPS.
“The Richland Hills Police Department would like to express its condolences to those affected by this senseless tragedy and ask for continued prayers for everyone involved,” police said in a news release.