‘His smile lit up a room’: Aunt speaks out following Eldridge boy’s death

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:49 PM CDT
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ELDRIDGE, Iowa (KWQC) - The family members of 4-year-old Brantley Welford are still in grief and shock following the news of his death in late August.

Welford was found by police to be unconscious in the sleeper of a semi truck in Shipshewana, Indiana. He was then life flighted to a hospital in Fort Wayne where he died of injuries two days later.

35-year-old Dylan Diericx, who is the boyfriend of Welford’s biological mother, was charged with neglect of a dependent leading to death and remains in jail in Indiana.

While Welford’s biological mother, Victoria Tanner, thinks what happened to Brantley was an accident, his aunt, Jenna Bruck, said she is seeking tougher charges on Diericx in relation to the death of the little boy.

Brantley was a joyful child who always had a smile on his face, said Bruck. She said his smile “lit up a room,” and that he loved to play sports like soccer and baseball.

According to Bruck, Tanner had just recently gained back custody of Brantley and his younger sister earlier in the year. They had been in foster care for over two years.

“There was a termination of rights and [Tanner] appealed,” Bruck said. “Three of the appellate court judges overturned the ruling and gave her back custody.”

To Brucks’ knowledge, Dylan Diericx-whom she had never met-was not in the picture at the time Tanner regained custody, which made it all the more shocking when she said she found out Brantley was in his care for four days prior to him being found unconscious and injured.

“I don’t know how many times Brantley had rode in the semi with him,” Bruck said. “I don’t know, to say the least, what their relationship was like.”

Diericx’s charge is a Class One Felony, one of the highest charges a defendant can receive in Indiana, for the extreme injuries that Brantley faced, including broken bones, rectal bleeding, cuts, and bruises.

Those charges are not enough for Bruck, however. She says she wants Diericx charged with murder.

“The fight is on, I will get justice,” Bruck said. “I will get answers and I will get to bottom of it.”

Bruck is holding a memorial for Brantley at the Eldridge Community Center on Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public are welcome to join.

She also has a Facebook page the public can follow to receive updates on Brantley’s case.

Neither Brantley’s biological mother or father have spoken with TV6 about the incident.

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