DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For the first time we’re learning more about the early life of Takoda Collins, the 10-year-old Dayton boy who died in December. A Wisconsin woman who cared for Takoda after he was born explains how the boy’s estranged father eventually got custody. 

Anita Bredeson is a family friend of Takoda’s biological mother, Robin. When Takoda was born and Robin was unable to care for him, Anita and her fiancé took the baby into their home, even working to adopt him. 

Anita says, “He was a happy baby, he was a happy infant.” For 11 months Bredeson and her fiancé raised newborn Takoda Collins as his mother came by often to check on him. But when he was 11 months old, Anita says the mother’s boyfriend at the time spanked the child hard enough to trigger an investigation from children services. 

They say for several years Takoda lived with 3 different foster families. Al-Mutahan McLean, Takoda’s biological father who’s in custody in connection with the death, was not around. Bredeson says, “He never called. He never saw Takoda until he got whiff. I suppose human services or child support would’ve gotten ahold of him.” 

Anita says McLean came for him out of the blue one day. “He came to Wisconsin and did a DNA test and he was Takoda’s father. So they took Takoda from my fiancé and gave him to a complete stranger.” She says her fiancé was in the process of formally adopting Takoda, but they last saw him at his 4th birthday party. From 11 months from when he was abused to the time they gave him to Al, Brian was trying to get custody the whole time.” 

Anita learned of Takoda’s death the day after it was announced in December. She says she didn’t believe it at first, then was angry, and is now just sad. “People need to know that Takoda was very, very loved. He was never wanting for anything. He was a happy child even when he was in foster care.”