Scottsdale community gathers to remember 11-year-old abused, killed

Neighbors laid candles at a memorial that continues to grow. Photo by Amy Cutler/Arizona's...
Neighbors laid candles at a memorial that continues to grow. Photo by Amy Cutler/Arizona's Family.(free to use)
Updated: Feb. 6, 2022 at 8:13 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – A community came together Sunday evening to honor 11-year-old, Chaskah Davis Smith. Chaskah’s grandmother, Stephanie Davis, and her husband, Thomas Desharnais, are charged in connection with his murder. They gathered at the Extended Stay America in Old Town Scottsdale, where the family lived for the last two years.

“I feel very bad that I didn’t do more, I did whatever I could, but it wasn’t enough,” Courtney Lange said.

Lange worked at the front desk of the hotel. She said she interacted with Chaskah and his nine-year-old half-brother several times. “These little boys were covered head to toe in clothing, they were always wearing sunglasses and hats, whenever you talk directly to them, they would never answer for themselves,” she explained.

Lange said she called the Department of Child Safety twice about the family, concerned about possible abuse. DCS confirmed they received three reports back in 2017, and two of them were determined to be unsubstantiated.

A week ago, first responders were called to the family’s hotel room for an unresponsive child. Court documents show they noticed cuts and bruises all over him. Desharnais later reportedly admitted to investigators that Davis frequently starved the children and beat them.

“This should not have happened,” Laurie Staalberg, a retired teacher, said. Staalberg helped organize the vigil. “We just want to show that he’s not forgotten and we care,” Linder Derringer, a neighbor, said.

Bikers against Child Abuse also took part. “It’s a story that happens too many times,” Woodstock, a member, said.

Neighbors laid candles at a memorial that continues to grow. “There were a lot of things that were missed here, and I think it’s really important for people to be educated on the fact that if something doesn’t seem right or feel right, to definitely call out,” Lange said.