More than 35 bicycles and dozens of toys were given away to children in need in Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties over the weekend by the family of the late toddler Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood, whose homicide death remains unsolved nearly two years later.
The family gave away the bikes and toys Saturday afternoon in a parking lot across the street from The Junction shopping center in East Sonora. Tracy Gulcynski, Koltyn’s paternal grandmother, said it was their first year doing the giveaway using money raised from their annual Koltyn’s Ride motorcycle event in honor of the slain toddler.
“We miss Koltyn, and if we can’t shower him with gifts, we’re going to do it for other children,” she said. “It’s been a rough year for a lot of people, and it feels good giving.”
Other families and their children were invited to get a bike or toys via the family’s “Justiceforkoltyn” Facebook group, which they launched months after the toddler’s death on Jan. 15, 2019, while still awaiting results on his autopsy from the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office.
The autopsy results were finally released in late June 2019 and revealed that the boy died from blunt force trauma, with evidence he had been shaken.
A murder investigation into Koltyn’s death was launched by the Sonora Police Department immediately after receiving the autopsy results, though no arrests have been made and no one has been publicly identified as a suspect to this day.
“It’s still an open investigation,” Gulcynski said on Saturday. “We’re hoping for closure soon.”
Koltyn lived in Waterford with his mother, Nicole Sparks, and was less than a month shy of his second birthday when he died.
A search warrant obtained by The Union Democrat in January stated that on the day before Koltyn’s death, his mother had left him in the care of her then-boyfriend, Joseph Maloney, at his residence on South Shepherd Street in Sonora while she was working.
The document stated that Sparks took her son to Adventist Health Sonora shortly after midnight on Jan. 15, 2019, before he was transported by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center and died later that day.
Sonora police were reportedly not informed about Koltyn’s death until more than five hours after the fact when they were contacted by a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s detective who was investigating it as a possible homicide. The search warrant stated it was believed that the fatal injury occurred approximately one to two days before he died.
In past interviews, Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel has stated the delay in them being told about the boy’s death was not helpful to the investigation. He’s also said part of why it has taken so long is due to the lack of a “smoking gun” and a large amount of medical records involved, but he could not be immediately reached Monday for an update.
Gulcynski said the family has been in communication over the past year with members of the United States Congress and the California State Legislature about introducing legislation known as “Koltyn’s Law,” which would make it mandatory for hospital’s to call both Child Protective Services and law enforcement when a child is brought into the emergency room in a serious condition.
The family handed out the remaining bikes and toys that weren’t given away on Saturday outside of a restaurant in Oakdale, where Gulcynski and Koltyn’s father, Joshua Blackwood, both reside.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 768-5175.