Thrown Off the Key Bridge

Anne Marble
6 min readSep 9, 2021

The Unimaginable Death of a Toddler

Stephen Nelson blamed demons for what he did, but even the demons don’t want anything to do with him. He threw his three-year-old son off Baltimore’s Key Bridge on a cold evening. All because he was angry with his girlfriend over custody.

The Crime

On February 3, 2008, Nelson had yet another fight with his girlfriend, Natisha Johnson, over custody of their three-year-old son, Turner Jordan (T.J.) Nelson. Their relationship had been volatile. Most of their arguments were about the custody of T.J.

On a day when many people in Baltimore were looking ahead to the Superbowl, Nelson was angry about custody. So angry that he did the unthinkable. He took a child from a loving mother because of anger and jealousy.

A local news report from WBAL-TV in Baltimore shares the details. Nelson had T.J. for part of the day. After leaving his house with T.J., he called Natisha repeatedly, from payphones, telling her that their son was not coming home. Claiming he had killed T.J. Cruelly telling her, He told her, “I killed our son and it’s all your fault. You’re going to have to live with this in your heart.”

When Nelson returned to his mother’s house without T.J., in a distraught state, Nelson’s mother called the police and reported that her son was telling her he had thrown his son off the Key Bridge.

By the time police arrived, Nelson had attempted suicide by drinking cleaning products. He was admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center (a hospital ranked highly for acute care). There, doctors placed him in an induced coma. For that reason, the police were unable to speak to Nelson right away. But they planned to get a statement as soon as possible. And charge him with murder.

Witnesses told the Maryland Transportation Authority Police they had seen a man standing on the bridge. The man waved his arms and shouted, “No, no, no.” That man was Nelson. The police arrived quickly, but Nelson had already left.

The Key Bridge

If you’ve lived in Maryland, you’ve probably gone over the Key Bridge (full name: Francis Scott Key Bridge), which traverses the Patapsco River, including part of the Baltimore Harbor. If you took a cruise out of Baltimore, you may have stood on the deck and watched as your ship passed under the bridge.

Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.