John Taylor Baxley

John Taylor Baxley

On March 18, 2006, Crystal Lee Ann Baxley and Justin Paul Garwacki were married in Tampa, Florida.  Eight months later, on November 2, 2006, John Taylor Baxley was born in Joplin, Missouri.  Not long after J.T.’s birth, Crystal moved back home to Sarcoxie, Missouri, formally filing for divorce from Justin on February 21, 2007.

After Crystal moved home, Justin stayed in Florida working at Bay to Bay Detail Inc, and setting up house with Crystal’s former best friend, Kara O’Connell, in a townhouse his family owned.  The two had obviously been busy long before Justin and Crystal’s divorce, as Kara just happened to have Justin’s baby girl around the same time Crystal had J.T.

What could have been a very quiet and clean divorce, Garwacki turned into a three ring circus.  Crystal’s divorce papers were served on Garwacki’s dad, as Garwacki was still listing his parents’ house as his residence. With Crystal’s divorce papers in his possession, Garwacki decided he wasn’t going down without a fight. Garwacki answered her petition by denying paternity for J.T. in April, 2007. In fact, the whole divorce proceedings were more or less highjacked by Justin – he served Crystal with summons, petitions, and pushed everything to his timetable. The whole process was dragged out as long as possible. The case was not through the court system until March 19, 2009, when the divorce was finally granted.

Justin Garwacki

Justin Garwacki

Justin was publicly announcing he did not accept J.T. as his child.  In one action, Justin managed to smear Crystal’s reputation and J.T.’s paternity.  The court ordered a DNA paternity test and the results confirmed that Justin Paul Garwacki was the biological father of John Taylor “J.T.” Baxley.  Furthermore, based on Justin’s petitions, the Missouri judge ordered Crystal to complete several on-line courses on parenting. In order to have custody of J.T. and qualify for the child support, Crystal had to meet standards set by Justin’s legal stipulations.

Of course, Crystal completed the courses, met the criteria and, in the end, Justin was ordered to pay Crystal $259 per month for child support for J.T. – not that Justin willingly paid the money though, as Crystal had to go to court to get Justin to comply with the support order. By forcing the paternity issue, Justin had overplayed his hand and now had to pay child support.  Justin was sure Crystal was spending the money on herself. Kara was always complaining to him about how little they spent on their baby girl and saying things to the effect of, ‘You know, Crystal’s laughing all the way to the bank’.  Justin had come to resent sending the child support payment and little John Taylor Baxley would end up paying the price.

The Missouri court granted the divorce, but it also implemented a custody and visitation plan for Crystal and Justin. Failure to adhere to the court-ordered plan would find the defaulting party in violation of said order and liable for penalties and punishment.

The DNA results, the visitation plan, the whole legal process – well, it didn’t go down well with Justin – or Kara, for that matter. Not only did they have to cough up money every month for J.T., but they now had to take J.T. at pre-assigned times throughout the year.  No one was concerned about J.T. going for his court-ordered summer visit as the boy had spent time in the fall of 2009 with his father, Justin’s girlfriend Kara, and their daughter.

John Taylor Baxley

John Taylor Baxley

On June 28, 2010, little J.T. was ready to go to his father’s for the summer. He was full of excitement, but he was going to miss his mom, his granny, and all his Sarcoxie relatives.  The brief visit he had had with his dad and his dad’s new girlfriend last fall had been, well, different. J.T. really liked his half-sister, but her mother didn’t like them playing together. Kara always seemed to come along and put the little girl in her room for a “nap” or something.

Justin never seemed to be too pleased to see J.T. Justin didn’t really seem to want J.T. around, but still, he came to get him for visits. J.T. would represent Crystal to Justin and therefore bear the brunt of Justin’s anger and dislike.

Saturday, June 28, 2010, Justin Garwacki arrived at Crystal’s residence in Sarcoxie, Missouri. There he picked up his three-and-a-half-year-old son. Crystal packed clothes and toys from home to keep the little boy occupied. Crystal cried a little and told her boy how much she would miss him, but that she would see him soon. Waving goodbye as Justin took off for Florida, Crystal was left to count the days until J.T.’s return.  Only he wouldn’t return – ever.  In just over six weeks, the little boy would be dead at the hands of his father and his girlfriend.

According to interviews both Kara O’Connell and Justin Garwacki had with detectives, little J.T. was physically abused from day one upon his arrival at his father’s house in Florida. The reason? Purely to torture and torment the little boy.

Kara OConnell

Kara OConnell

Garwacki told investigators that about a week before J.T.’s death, he had his son in the bathtub and was pouring water over the boy’s head to teach him how to hold his breath. He said that when his son was not holding his breath properly, he struck J.T. on the head.  The boy fell face first and smashed his head against the tub. Garwacki and O’Connell then filled a sock with uncooked rice and heated it in the microwave. They placed the sock onto the bruise, but that burned the boy’s forehead.  “The burn was an open, gaping wound that then went untreated.”  The fact that it burned the child’s flesh means that it must have hurt like hell. One can imagine that poor J.T. cried and sobbed in agony while these two idiots applied the molten bag on his head, no doubt also telling J.T. to shut up and stop fussing.

In an interview with a detective, O’Connell also admitted to hitting the boy “numerous times about his face, head, and legs.”  She said that she has hit him hard enough to cause bruising and that she has picked the boy up off the floor by his throat before. She said she did that because the toddler would not listen to her.

During John Taylor Baxley’s 46 days of hell, the two of the adults entrusted with his care never once sought any type of medical treatment for him. The reason is simple: had anyone with two functioning eyes had a look at the little boy, they would have known he was being abused and contacted authorities. Kara and Justin were well aware that what they were doing was wrong, despite their claims after the fact that they were just “disciplining” J.T. – nothing out of the ordinary at all.  J.T., unable to control the terror he was feeling, began to urinate and defecate in his pants, having accidents.  How horrified must a child be to regress to being unable to control bodily functions.

The repeated violence and torture against a J.T. was brutally horrific.  The beautiful blond haired, blue eyed little boy was repeatedly dropped on the floor, his arm was broken, he was picked up by the throat, bitten, punched and had his chair pulled out from under him.  On August 10, 2010, the day J.T. died, Garwacki had struck him several times with a “cupped” hand on his head, face, stomach, legs and genital area because he was not eating properly.  Becoming more frustrated, he pulled the boys chair out from under him causing him to hit the floor with a “thud”.  O’Connell said that later that day, after the boy had eaten a Nutri Grain bar and had some juice, he began to throw up. She put the boy into the bathtub and he stopped breathing.  When Garwacki arrived at their home, O’Connell told him what happened and he called 911. It’s unclear how much time passed between when she noticed the boy wasn’t breathing and Garwacki’s 911 call.

John Taylor Baxley

John Taylor Baxley

Investigators say a call was placed to 911 to report that a baby was not breathing.  “When deputies arrived at the scene, they could see obvious signs of severe abuse, a lot of bruising, a lot of trauma to the child,” explained Deputy Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “It was clear cut that this child had been abused.”  J.T. had a bite mark on his right calf and bruises covering his tiny body, especially bad on his face, chest, legs and genital area.

John Taylor Baxley died soon after being transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital.  An autopsy ruled the death a homicide.  The autopsy showed Garwacki and O’Connell contributed to the child’s
death and that the injuries were inflicted over a long period of time.

26-year-old Justin Garwacki, was arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse, child abuse, child neglect and failing to report neglect of a child. Garwacki’s girlfriend, 21-year-old Kara O’Connell, was arrested on the same charges.  The two were booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.  The daughter of Kara O’Connell and Justin Garwacki was immediately placed in the Sheriff’s Child Protective Investigation Division. The girl showed no signs of abuse and was in perfect health.

  When Crystal and her family received the tragic news of her son’s death, the pain was too much to handle.  While the family came together in efforts to support each other and get through this tragedy as a single unit, the void created by the loss of J.T. will never be filled.  The obituary placed by the Baxley family read:

This beautiful little boy brought joy and laughter to everyone he met. We were all privileged to have had what little time we were given with him and pray that no one that loved him squandered one second of that time. He will remain in our hearts, thoughts and prayers forever.

 Almost six months after the death of John Taylor Baxley, Garwacki and O’Connell were charged with first-degree murder.  Both Kara and Justin admitted their physical abuse and medical neglect of J.T. The reason both were so uninhibited with their admissions was that neither one of them felt that what they did was unacceptable or wrong.

Garwacki and O’Connell’s trials have been delayed about as much as possible, and recently circuit court Judge Chet Tharpe threw down the gauntlet, telling lawyers that if this trial doesn’t proceed soon, their clients may not be the only ones who end up behind bars.  The most recent delay was caused when Judge Tharpe was informed that Garwacki’s lawyer, Greg Hill, had been fired, resigned, and was getting married all at the same time, causing him to drop Garwacki’s case and move to Arizona.  Not only that, but Hill had failed to file all of his motions in time and was missing a witness.  Judge Tharpe immediately summoned Hill to the court when he was informed of this information.  Hill showed up not long after and began explaining to the Judge Tharpe that he had expected to be ready for trial, but learned in late December that a key witness would be unavailable.  Not notifying the court of this, Hill said “was an oversight on my part.”  Hill also stated that he had been offered a post with the law school at Arizona State University..  He said he gave his notice of resignation to Public Defender Julianne Holt on December 26, 2012, in hopes of remaining on for a couple of weeks to help with the reassignments of his cases, however claims Holt fired him on the spot.  He stated his computer access and emails were blocked, effectively shutting him down.  Then he hit the Judge with the kicker – he was off to China to get married in a few days.  Tharpe was left reprimanding Hill for his lack of ‘common courtesy’.  With that, Tharpe vowed to severely discipline the next attorney to cause a delay in the trial, saying “The next time, I’m going to contact the Florida Bar and, if I think the violation is intentional, I’m going to put a lawyer in jail.”



John Taylor Baxley - Heaven to Home



~ by LTWH on January 29, 2012.


  1. I do applause you for your concern for this case and I hpoe you continue to cover this case to the end and I beg you to continue to do your research on this case. We are all scared over this loss in more ways than you can imagine. We all loss someome we love dearly. If in your search for justice can truly solve this tragidity then I will help in any way possible.

  2. Justin and Kara go to trial on January 7th 2013.


  4. I love only a couple doors down from where this happened… was chilling and disgusting….I cannot wait to see these 2 slammed in jail or put to DEATH!!!

    • If you live a few doors down I would hope that you could have saved JT from the beating that HIS FATHER NOT the girlfriend inflicted on him That piece of shit Garwacki plead GUILTY after 5 1/2 years in jail I hope he gets bent over n raped repeatedly and then hangs himself and he still will be getting off easy. By the way Rita Peters of the state attorneys office gave him a deal 2nd deg murder with a chance of parole How do you feel about that Ronnie?

  5. I was just in jail with this sick bitch! She claims she didn’t do anything and it was all her boyfriend ! You can tell something is not right with her even by looking at her! She has a vacant look in her eyes.. Very creepy! She has also gained about 60 pounds sense her booking picture! Her family is feeding her fat ass and making sure she is well taken care of… When she gets to prison her “new family” will for sure take real good care of her there! I hope she suffers to!

    • I was also just in jail with her and she clams the bruses are come choking on his vomit.she is thinking she is getting out this month. She is now a lesbian and has a girlfriend that visit often…

      • I too was in jail with her.. When asked what her charges were she said “murder” she doesn’t care and even has pictures of that beautiful boy in jail with her as I write this. Her family makes sure she doesn’t hurt for nothing and she is certain she is going home soon to continue her life. What a monster she feels she has done nothing wrong.

    • Hey Jailbirds or should I say JailBitches Garwacki Plead GUILTY to murdering his own son and Im sure you both were in jail for a reason or do you think everyone else is dumb?? Why would you give a shit what her charges were just worry about your own and don’t be jealous that her family cares enough to send her things it’s not her fault ur family sucks and don’t give a shit about u

  6. They will bet let out on bail. Judge threw out the confession. -.-“

    • This True.! I am Jeff, Crystal’s Husband. I have been with her throughout this entire Nightmare. She recieved a Devestating phone call from the prosecuting attorney the other day, and was informed that the judge threw out Justin & Kara’s Confessions’ that they were going up for a bail hearing on December 18th 2014, and that they would be granted a Bond. Seriously.??? These Two Monsters Tortured, beat and murdered This precious 3 year old Baby Boy (John Taylor Baxley). and were formally charged With 1st Degree Murder in August of 2010.! Here it is, November 2014 and they havent even been to trial yet..!!! Where is the Justice for J.T. ??? and the Long Awaited Justice and Closure for Crystal, ( J.T.’s Mommy) and the rest of her family, Who Loved him Dearly. This has destroyed The Baxley Family, and here it is going on 5 years, No Justice, No Closure.! I cannot believe this is really happening. R.I.P. Baby Boy. We will fight till our dying day, until Justice is served

      • Hey Jeff – If you could email me at – I would love to speak with you and Crystal about doing a tribute and featuring JT’s case to keep the spotlight on him and what is happening with his killers, being the voice he needs alongside you all. Thanks! Nadine

      • Hey Jeff do you know that JT’s father was given a deal for MURDERING his own son? What kind of justice is that?? I thought we lived in the United States of America were you are innocent until proven guilty?? LTWH/ Nadine you run a site and don’t believe in Innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your PEERS??? The only thing I know is JT is dead and His SO CALLED FATHER PLEAD GUILTY TO IT AND NOW WHAT He is still gone and lives are in disarray I hope Justin Garwacki hangs himself in jail then Crystal might feel better.

  7. Little John…I did not know you but I knew your Grandpa, he passed away a week ago. I am sure he is with you now and waiting patiently for the arrival of Kara and Justin…be it briefly at the doors of Heaven before they are banished to Hell, but not after Bryan has a visit with them. God reserves a special place for animals like them.

    • Hey KCM again another person that knows someone yet JT is gone (but not forgotten) Maybe if Justin Garwacki was brought up better instead of trailer trash JT would still be alive? He beats kids and women did you know that? I think there are more victims here but No one wants to be man or woman enough to say it. Don’t worry IM MAN ENOUGH he beat his child he beat his girlfriend and hopefully with the bullshit plea deal Rita Peter’s gave him he can find a nice sugardaddy that will keep him warm at night till he figures out a way to take his own life.

      • Must be a idiot family member of the step mommy murderer lmao hope she rots and I’ll say karma to you, ya damn illegal

  8. As of now Justin took some sort of plea. The prosecutor will not tell me the terms or what he pled to. Kara is supposed to go to trial the first week of November. Justin’s sentencing hearing is set for November 17.

    • He got a sweet deal for a MURDERER Trisha 2nd degree murder and yet he might be out in another 10 yrs We can thank Rita Peter’s and Jennifer Johnson of the State Attorneys office for that. Doesn’t that just make you smile?? It makes me SICK OUR TAX DOLLARS HARD AT WORK

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  12. I hope he’s best and raped daily in prison. JUAN, you’re hilarious putting down the cellmates.One couldn’t spell and shows DUMB

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