The body of 4-year-old Darnell Gray, who is originally from Chicago and whose mother still lives here, was found in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Quatavia Givens - the boy's caretaker and his father's ex-girlfriend -- was charged Wednesday afternoon in the boy's death. She faces first degree child abuse resulting in a death.
Police announced the arrest after finding the boy's body Tuesday morning.
Darnell Gray would have turned five on Tuesday, said Kijuanis Gray, the boy's father.
"He liked to smile, he liked to be goofy. He loved to run around with me. He loved to play basketball. It's a lot," dad said of his son.
Kijuanis Gray said he is no longer with Darnell's mother, who lives in Chicago. He moved to Missouri a few years ago because he "wanted a better life" for himself and his son, and brought his son to Missouri six months ago.
Recently, however, Gray returned to Chicago to visit his sick mother and asked his then-girlfriend to watch his son. The woman is now in custody.
"I trusted her to watch him. But I wasn't expecting her to do this to him," Gray said.
Police said the woman called authorities at about 7 a.m. Oct. 25, saying the boy was missing when she woke up. After investigating, police later learned that the boy was likely missing hours before the woman called police, and their investigative efforts led them to his body.
"That's my only child that I had, my only child," said Gray, a 2010 graduate of Urban Prep Academy.
His Urban Prep classmate Tony Mhoon also lives in Missouri and said he helped with search efforts when the boy went missing.
"We were out there day and night, and trying to put in our own effort, just trying to get the right closure," Mhoon said.
Both Darnell's parents were in Missouri Wednesday.
Boy, 4, from Chicago, found dead in Missouri; father's ex-girlfriend charged