A fund has been set up at a Decatur bank to take donations for the cost of a funeral for 5-year-old Gary DeToma Jr., who was allegedly killed by his father earlier this week.
Ann Berg, a business development manager, said Decatur First Bank had already received some offerings to help Melanie DeToma pay for her son's funeral and other expenses she and her surviving child, 4-year-old Will, have.
"Melanie is a single parent. She's going to struggle financially," Berg said.
Melanie DeToma's estranged husband, Gary, is being held without bond on charges he killed his older son and assaulted the younger boy. He had been paying child support even though their divorce was not final.
According to officials, Gary DeToma had had the boys at his apartment for his regular visits, but he did not return the children Monday morning as he was required to under the tentative agreement the couple had reached. Melanie DeToma went to her estranged husband's apartment but got no answers to her knocks. She or her attorney also called the police and Gary DeToma's employeer looking for information. Eventually, one of Gary DeToma's co-workers went to the apartment, climbed a ladder to look through a bedroom window and saw the lifeless boy.
The authorities have not said how Gary Jr. died, but investigators initially told media outlets the boy may have been smothered. And Melanie DeToma's divorce attorney said Will had marks on his neck and injuries in his eyes to suggest there was an attempt to strangle him.
"The little boy apparently knows that his father choked him," attorney Blue Spruell said. "I don't know why Mr. DeToma stopped."
When news of Gary. Jr.'s death reached his school, the mother of one of the little boy's classmates and a teacher contacted the bank about setting up an account, Berg said.
"There's always a need when something like this happens," Berg said. "Decatur is a strong community and ... people typically want to do something."
Melanie DeToma had recently returned to the workforce, taking a job with a heating and air conditioning company. She also was getting support payments from her estranged husband for the children, a source of income that has most likely been lost now that Gary DeToma is in jail.
Berg said checks should be made out to the Gary DeToma Jr. Fund. Donations can be taken to the main bank on Commerce Drive in Decatur (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.) or to the branch in the Kroger at 720 Commerce Drive (Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. or Saturday 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.).
Donations also can be mailed to Berg's attention at the bank at 1120 Commerce Drive, Decatur 30030.
The bank's phone number is 404-373-1000.
Details about funeral plans were not immediately available.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com