SCHERERVILLE — Five-year-old Daniel Holdcroft Jr. was the light of many people’s lives, his father said in an interview with The Times on Wednesday. Now he is gone.
It has been seven days since the child died at Franciscan Health in Dyer after suffering multiple serious injuries April 16.
Since then, his father has pored through endless photos of his son, which show the child playing arcade games and smiling in the embrace of family members. While Daniel Jr. did not live with his biological father, the two had a close bond.
“He was the light in every situation, every family gathering and every day,” said Daniel Holdcroft Sr., of Alsip. “It all revolved around him. He was definitely going to become something special. He was taken too soon.”
Holdcroft said his son always was looking to lend a hand and took interest in electronics.
“He loved to help,” Holdcroft said. “He’d say, ‘Let me know if you need my help, dad.’ He loved driving remote-controlled cars with me and he loved Pokemon, whether it was video games or the cards. We were working on building him a gaming computer.”
Funeral service plans are still in the works, and Holdcroft said he plans to hold a memorial service in the future, which he is currently raising funds for through a GoFundMe page called, “In loving memory of Daniel Jr.” To date, $3,848 has been raised since the fundraiser was launched four days ago.
Holdcroft said he has been overwhelmed with grief in the wake of the tragedy. He since has created a Facebook page dedicated to memories, photos and videos of his son.
“So many people cared about our son,” he said. “I am trying my hardest to get back to everyone who has reached out. I don’t want them to mourn and feel left out.”
On April 17, Michael J. Tunstall, 26, was arrested and charged with murder and aggravated battery in the boy’s death, according to Superior Court of Lake County records. Tunstall is in a relationship with Daniel Jr.'s mother.
At the hospital following Daniel Jr.’s death, an investigating officer saw what appeared to be fresh bite marks and some bruising on the child’s body and questioned Tunstall, who denied hurting the boy but admitted he played a “bite game” with Daniel Jr. that day, court reports alleged.
Tunstall told police that after the child’s mother left for work that afternoon from their Schererville home, Daniel Jr. woke up from a nap vomiting. He said he took the child to the bathtub, where he became unresponsive.
The Lake County coroner’s office reported the boy had died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso/abdomen. The boy had multiple head injuries and a ruptured left lung, which had resulted from multiple heavy strikes to his head and body, court reports said.
Tunstall is currently in custody at Lake County Jail without bail, according to Lake County court records.
“I will continue to push to see justice,” Holdcroft said. “I’ve got be strong for my son and put his story out there. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I hope it prevents another child from being hurt.”