Friends, family react to death of 2-year-old boy; mother's boyfr - KPTV - FOX 12

Friends, family react to death of 2-year-old boy; mother's boyfriend charged with murder

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Taylor Kraig in court Wednesday. Taylor Kraig in court Wednesday.
Zackariah Daugherty, pictured on the GoFundMe website created by friends. Zackariah Daugherty, pictured on the GoFundMe website created by friends.
Taylor Kraig, jail booking photo Taylor Kraig, jail booking photo

A 20-year-old Portland man is being charged with murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, Zackariah Daugherty.

It’s a stunning, devastating loss for a lot of people.

“He was a very happy little boy that always smiled at everything and everyone just loved him,” said Stephanie Niedermeier. “I think if [Taylor] would have shown any signs that he would have hurt Zack that Mandy would want to get out of it, but I know that she loved him, so I think she was kind of blind to that.”

Taylor Kraig appeared in court Wednesday. 

Friends say the little boy lived with his mother, Mandy, and Kraig at an apartment on Southeast 162nd Avenue. The child died at the hospital Tuesday morning and the medical examiner determined his death was caused by homicidal violence. 

Niedermeier said she used to live with them and just moved out in July.

She said she would sometimes hear Kraig yelling at the little boy, and her apartment manager was even concerned.

“When our windows were open during the summer she would hear Taylor screaming at Zack for no reason, he’s only 2 (years old),” she said. “Just basic stuff about why are you crying, you’re fine, nobody’s hurting you. He said that before.”

The circumstances surrounding the death of the boy have not been released.

Supporters on both sides came to Kraig’s court appearance Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty in the case.

Kraig’s father, Jason, told FOX 12 that Zack’s death is an accident, but couldn’t say why or what happened between the toddler and his son.

In a statement, he said: “We’re grieving for little Zack and we’re doing the best to support our son. Zack made a big change in all of our lives in the short time that we knew him and he made drastic changes in my son’s life. Taylor loved him.”

At one point in court Wednesday, a supporter yelled, "I love you, Taylor," and others in court cheered as he was being led away. 

Neighbors at the Springtree Apartments said they didn’t hear anything alarming Monday afternoon.

Makayla Riley was playing outside when she said she saw Kraig leave. It was before police arrived.

“I just saw him come out of his house real quick and run to his car and [he] just drove off real fast,” Riley said. “They seem like a nice couple.”

“I see ‘em bringing in diapers and baby food and groceries, things like that, I’ve never seen anything abnormal from those folks,” her father, Morgan Riley, added. “I just don’t understand the way the world works these days and what could possibly be going through your mind to hurt a child like that. I heard about what happened, it’s really sad and I don’t understand it.”

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