Tulsa's 'Baby Oz' Graduates High School 15 Years After He Was Left For Dead
TULSA, Oklahoma - A toddler nearly beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend in 1997 has now graduated from high school.
Oz Decator's story drew national attention after he was beaten and thrown underneath an abandoned house, brain damaged and comatose.
Baby Oz's injuries were horrible.
He was held by the neck and beaten up against a wall.
He was severely brain damaged and not expected to live.
But he not only lived, but he is now a happy high school graduate.
Monica Decator moved to Tulsa for a fresh start.
She worked at a hospital and had a son when she met Shelton Jackson.
Jackson stayed home with Oz while she worked, until April 7, 1997 when Jackson told police Oz wouldn't stop crying, so he beat the boy's head against a wall and dumped him under a house.
When Monica came home and asked where her son was, Jackson beat her over and over with brick, stabbed her 10 times, then set her house on fire to cover it up and hopped a bus to McAlester, headed for Texas.
In freezing temperatures, officers found Oz 17 hours after he was beaten.
Jackson was caught, put on trial, convicted and given the death sentence for Monica's murder and life in prison for beating Oz.
Oz's family was initially told he would never survive, so they agreed to shut of the machines. But when they did, Oz didn't die, but started breathing on his own.
No one was more thrilled and thankful than Monica's mother, his grandmother, Mary Decator.
"The only think I could think was ‘Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God and the police department,'" Mary Decator said.
Oz has endured two brain surgeries and gone through extensive physical therapy.
Last month, he graduated high school.
Mary says he drinks his tea out of a champagne glass, loves church, country and bluegrass music, playing on the computer and his guitars.
She says in many ways, he's like other boys his age. He is a typical teenage boy.
"He thinks he's the handsomest, best-looking thing that ever walked the Earth," Mary Decator said.
Oz still can't walk on his own or speak, and he uses hand gestures to communicate. His family says he has a wonderful sense of humor, despite what has happened to him.
Mary Decator is so thankful he is alive and thriving.
"This is a brand new beginning for him, he's started a brand new beginning, a brand new life," Mary Decator said. "An adult life."
Jackson remains on death row.
News On 6 even found him on an inmate connect website, where he said he was looking for an interesting, adventurous, compassionate woman for correspondence.
His execution date has not been set.