HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – The Watson family is preparing to plan a funeral for 2-year-old Zevaya Flanagan.
The toddler was pronounced dead at Memorial Hermann Hospital after Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said her dad, Deontray Flanagan, took her from daycare and led them on a chase.
Court documents state Flanagan choked Zevaya at some point during the chase.
“It just hurts so bad that someone would do something so heartbreaking, especially someone she loved so much. She loved him so much,” said Zevaya’s mom, Kairsten Watson. “Every time he came, she just wanted to be with him and go wherever he goes, and it’s just so heartbreaking that he would take her from us.”
Watson said her daughter loved to sing and was a happy child.
“She brought joy to every room. Everyone loved her so much,” Watson said.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office documents state that Flanagan picked up the 2-year-old from daycare on Monday around 9:30 a.m.
“Flanagan was on the list allowing him to pick up the child. About 45 minutes later, Flanagan arrived at the Walmart store, where the child’s mother works,” the documents show. “They had a brief argument. Flanagan assaulted the child’s mother, took her cellular telephone, and left the store with the child.”
In an interview with KPRC 2′s Rilwan Balogun, the Watson family told him the chase was the end of a string of events that started on March 15 when they claim Flanagan barged into their home and took the 2-year-old from the bathtub.
“She had no clothes on and he didn’t say anything,” said the toddler’s aunt, Kaci Watson. “The police said that our statement wasn’t credible and that we invited him to steal the baby. We didn’t know where she was going to be.”
Zevaya’s grandfather, Curtis Watson, said they called the police multiple times and felt they were ignored.
“The first time, we said, ‘okay, it was the first time they figured it was not credible.’ The second time we called, ‘oh well, we really can’t.’ What do you mean you can’t?” he said.
Curtis then said the family went looking for the toddler.
“This happened in a five-day span that started on Wednesday night and concluding into yesterday,” he said.
The sheriff’s office said it will perform an internal investigation.
In a news release, a spokesperson said the investigation will “determine whether all the agency’s policies and procedures were followed. The investigation will include a thorough review of the timeline, camera footage, dispatch communications, and radio traffic.”
Although the release did confirm the family’s events of things.
“Previously, HCSO has responded to calls for service at the mother’s residence in north Harris County,” the release said. “On March 15, 2023, Harris County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the mother of the deceased child’s home to investigate Flanagan for an alleged terroristic threat. After taking the mother’s statement, the responding deputy consulted with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to support filing a criminal charge at the time.”
“I just want everybody to understand, even law enforcement,” the grieving mother said. “If I’m telling you it’s a problem and I’m constantly telling you over and over, then y’all need to help us because obviously, something is wrong.”
Curtis said he is now calling on lawmakers to do something.
“We want you guys to foster a law and call it the Zevaya Watson Bill, and that bill would be to stop these evil parents and even people that have custodial rights, whether it be a foster parent or natural parent,” Curtis said. “People that have these children that are supposed to be taking care of them but they’re conning people.”
The Watsons want two-year-old Zevaya to be remembered for her laugh and smile.
“She made everybody happy. She was such a church girl. She was always laughing. She had the best laugh,” said Kaci.
The family has created a GoFundMe to pay for Zevaya’s funeral expenses.