Family Fights For Toddler As Investigation Into His Death Continues

Tuesday, October 12th 2021, 5:00 pm
By: Ashley Holden

WATONGA, Oklahoma -

One Oklahoma family is fighting for a toddler who died in June while in the care of a couple in Watonga. 

Zavien Kinyon's family said they have now learned his cause of death was changed from being "accidental" to "undetermined."

The boy was just 2 years old when he died. At the time, he had been left in the care of a couple that his grandparents met.

"All they tell us is it's an ongoing investigation, and they don't know when that's going to end," said Saroya Kinyon, Zavien's grandma.

But Saroya Kinyon told News 9 she had been in touch with detectives, and they are actively pursuing leads.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation began their investigation this summer after the toddler died away in June.

Saroya Kinyon and her husband thought the couple would be fine helping with Zavien while they renovated their home and had even formed a friendship with them.

The couple caring for Zavien, identified by the Department of Human Services as the Blackerbys, claimed he fell from a bunk bed. The toddler died just three days later at a hospital.

The cause of death in the medical examiner's report was listed as blunt force head trauma.

"The coroner for Zavien's case initially found it accidental and then some additional circumstantial evidence came to light, and she has now reversed that decision and amended it," said Saroya Kinyon.

The family received an email from the state medical examiner's office which read:

"Additional circumstantial evidence has been received and reviewed. In my professional opinion, the most probable manner of death is accident. Despite accident being the most probable manner, I recognize that the event that caused the blunt force head injury was reported to have been unwitnessed. Because there is also a real possibility that a non-accidental event did occur, I am amending the manner to undetermined."

On Tuesday, DHS confirmed they substantiated claims of unlicensed child care provided by the Blackerbys and that information has been turned over to law enforcement.

So far, the couple has not been charged with a crime but Zavien's family insists his death was not an accident.

"Our mission now is to keep Zavien's name out there, to keep his story alive and to seek justice for them," said Saroya Kinyon.

News 9 did try to reach out to the Blackerbys and their attorney.

Calls were also made to the Blaine County district attorney and the OSBI.

At last check, OSBI said the investigation is still open and ongoing.

Saroya Kinyon said at the time she did not know the Oklahoma law surrounding child care. Now, she said she would not put her grandchild in the same situation. 

Oklahoma DHS urges people to choose a licensed care provider. They have a locator tools families can use if they are looking for someone to help with their needs. Click here to view DHS's Oklahoma child care locator.