Father figure to deceased Warren boy remembers child

Lee Hodge, ex-boyfriend of Judith Owens talks about being a father figure to Russell Cottrill, who died Monday. Police are investigating the death and have charged the mother's boyfriend.

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Police are still trying to figure out how a three-year-old Warren boy died earlier this week, while the mother’s boyfriend faces charges in relation to the death.

On Friday, a man who knew the child for two years is remembering him.

Lee Hodge says he was a father figure for Russell Cottrill, and now he is heartbroken over the little boy’s death. Hodge said he is the ex-boyfriend of Judith Owens, Russell’s mother.

“It still hurts, because that little guy looked at me as daddy, because I was in his life for two years,” Hodge said.

He said he remembers his “little buddy” as a good kid who loved Thomas the Tank Engine, Batman and Charlie Brown. He described Russell as a little rambunctious but overall, a good kid.

Russell passed away Monday at a Cleveland hospital from injuries he received over the weekend. His mother’s live-in boyfriend, Arthur Harper, was watching him.

Harper is now in the Trumbull County Jail, being held without bond on a child endangerment charge stemming from the incident. The cause of death has not yet been released, but an autopsy was completed Thursday.

Hodge said he never had a good feeling about Harper.

“I tried to warn her that he was no good from the beginning, and she just blew me off like I wasn’t even there,” he said.

Police said Harper may face further charges, but that depends on the results of the autopsy. Police expect to have those results at some point next week.

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