Young stabbing victim dies

LINCOLN, Neb. — The little boy at the heart of a brutal attack last year in Rochester has died. The cause of death remains unclear.

Three-year-old Xavier Njemanze smiles during a physical therapy session at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. on April 24, 2013. Xavier died in Lincoln on Sunday.
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LINCOLN, Neb. — The little boy at the heart of a brutal attack last year in Rochester has died.

Xavier Njemanze, 3, died Sunday morning in Lincoln, Neb., said Molly Nance, director of marketing and public relations at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. Xavier had been receiving therapy there for injuries he suffered when he was stabbed at his mother's home last winter.

The cause of death remains unclear, Nance said, but Xavier's mother told them he'd had been taken to another hospital for complications of sickle cell anemia when he died Sunday morning. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

"We were going to feature him in some advertising, and we called this morning to confirm the photo shoot time and date," Nance said. That's when Xavier's mother, Shaquitta 'Chika' Njemanze, told Nance's staff he'd died.

"I saw him just about two weeks ago, and he looked great," Nance said. "He just would steal your heart; his little smile was so sweet, and he was so bright. He was such a little character."


On March 1, 2012, Xavier was just six days away from his second birthday when Antonio Deshawn Roebuck broke into the family's northwest Rochester apartment and stabbed the child repeatedly, damaging his liver, kidney, lung and intestines.

Xavier was taken to Saint Marys Hospital and placed in a coma to heal; he spent nearly two weeks in intensive care and another month in the pediatric unit. He underwent five surgeries here, then moved to Lincoln, Neb., a year ago with his father, mother and older brother, Malik, now 5, to be closer to family.

In June, Xavier started at Madonna's Rehab Day program — an all-day program featuring intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy five days a week. He'd suffered brain damage from the blood loss, doctors said.

In the months since, he'd graduated to outpatient therapy, two days a week, Nance said, and had made "incredible" progress. "He'd touched a lot of lives here, I'll tell you that."

The long-term goal was to have him at an age-appropriate level physically, socially and developmentally, his mother told the Lincoln Journal Star last month, though doctors had prepared her that Xavier might never fully regain everything he lost.

His mother couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Roebuck, who also stabbed Xavier's father three times that night, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree attempted murder in July. He and Xavier's mother had dated briefly and broken up, but Roebuck, 23, gave no indication why he targeted the child in the attack.

He was sentenced to 27 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 18 years.

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