He would give up his life to have “the little guy” back.
“If I could give my life for his back, I would. Name the time and the day,” Dylan Diericx, 35, of Eldridge, told Local 4 News on Wednesday.
Diericx spoke with us two days before his sentencing in LaGrange County, Indiana. Diericx, who still was out on bond at that time, met with Local 4 News an hour away from the metro Quad Cities, where he – along with his girlfriend Tiffany Stogdill – talked about what Diericx says was a botched investigation into the death of 4-year-old Brantley Welford.
Diericx, accused in Brantley’s death, pleaded guilty to a charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Level 1 felony which, his bail agent told Local 4 News, in Indiana is “the highest felony you can get.”
Diericx said he agreed to 32 years for the charge, which carries the possibility of a 40-year sentence. Attorneys told him murder charges might be added if he did not take the plea, he said.
What happened in August 2021
It was Aug. 19, 2021, when Shipshewana Police were called to 345 Van Buren St. for a young boy unresponsive and in critical condition. He was taken by helicopter to a Fort Wayne hospital, where he ultimately died, officials say.
Brantley was the son of Diericx’s girlfriend. Diericx is not the boy’s father.
Brantley’s preschool was understaffed, so the boy was not in school at the time. Diericx gave the boy the choice of staying at his grandmother’s or going trucking (Brantley had ridden with him before). Brantley chose going on the road.
“Now if I was an abuser, why would he say ‘Yes?’” Diericx asks.
Diericx said he that he had tossed the boy on the bunk in the sleeper of his semi, and the child hit his head on a small plastic hook.
“He cried out, and I held on to him. I laid him down, and I saw that he was breathing.” His arms and legs were moving, he said.
Diericx said many times he is “not a medical person.” But he did see that Brantley had scratched the back of his head on a small plastic hook, and Diericx says he put some Neosporin on it.
After that, Diericx says he continued to drive down the road and look back at Brantley or pull over to check on him. “I stopped a few more times,” Diericx said.
What Diericx calls an accident happened about an hour from Shipshewana on the tollway. “Every five seconds I’m looking back there,” he said.
He got the truck loaded and got back in and went to check on Brantley. “That’s when I noticed he was getting cooler to the touch,” Diericx said. He called the little boy’s mother, who told him to call 911, and Diericx did.
According to court records, the boy’s injuries were not consistent with what Diericx has said. Documents say the child suffered “fractures to his clavicle and shoulder blade, bruises and abrasions on the right and left side of his face, bruises on his forehead, laceration and blunt force trauma to the back of the head, bruises to genitalia, injury and bleeding from the victim’s anus, cuts to his arm, a busted lip and burns around his mouth and on various parts of his body.”
Diericx says he does not know how some of those injuries happened. But he does say Brantley fell some distance off the steps leading up to the truck the Monday before “after I told him to stay in the truck,” he said.
Brantley hit his head, Direcx said. He went to Walmart to buy Neosporin and lip balm, and also bought some bruise cream because Brantley was scheduled to have his preschool picture taken the next week.
“He never cried,” Diericx said.
Also, Diericx has an explanation for a “line” on the lower part of the boy’s body.
The two were out at a farm, cutting down a tree and cleaning up overgrowth. When a utility tractor they were on hit a stump, they both flew off.
“These cuts that they’re talking about? From tree limbs,” Diericx said
Diericx, who was a truck driver for about 10 years, was gone “all the time,” he said. He did not know about any broken bones, he said.
The arrest and investigation
When Diericx went to the LaGrange County Courthouse, he was interviewed and then arrested.
He says he was in shock – “Look at the picture on my mugshot,” he said.
Officials “did not do their job,” he says. “I didn’t tell them ‘No’ to a lie detector test. I told them I wanted my lawyer there. They told the world I said ‘No.’”
“From the first interview to the second to the third to the fourth, they didn’t listen to me.”
Diericx feels betrayed by some people he has known for a long time, some of whom have expressed their opinions on social media and others who have spoken with reporters. Some of Brantley’s relatives have spoken out and “collected on his death,” Diericx said. “They have used (the boy’s death) as an opportunity for lining their pockets.”
Diericx speaks directly and his gaze never wavers when he talks about what happened in the past, whether it’s a few minutes he spent in jail some years back for driving on a revoked license – the only prior incident – or how he planned for Brantley’s birthday party. (He bought Brantley $200 worth of birthday gifts, including boots, bibs, and Legos.)
On Friday he left behind some supportive friends and family members – including a daughter born to him and Brantley’s mother in March. That child is in foster care, he said.
Meanwhile, he began serving his sentenced Friday after a morning hearing in LaGrange County Court.
Diericx has some advice for everyone: To take injuries seriously, and “Stay away from Indiana. They don’t do their job.”
The family of Brantley Welford maintains Diericx abused the boy, and that led to the child’s death.