Dena Hofstetter had never seen Blake Litton before the morning of Feb. 16.

Now she can’t forget him.

Hofstetter, a registered nurse, was on her way to work when she happened upon an alleged hit-and-run accident scene and found 3-year-old Blake, who was critically injured. She and another first responder tried in vain to resuscitate the boy.

“I was the second person at the scene,” said Hofstetter, who is a progressive-care nurse at Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia. “I helped do CPR on Blake until the ambulance got there. But we weren’t able to resuscitate him. Since then Blake has been very important to me.”

Hofstetter had a feeling this wasn’t a hit-and-run accident when she arrived at the scene shortly after 5 a.m. on Highway 135.

“At that time my focus was only on trying to save Blake,” Hofstetter said. “But something wasn’t right.”

Investigators determined T. J. Presley, the boyfriend of Blake Litton’s mother, Jamie Litton, had concocted the story, claiming Blake had been the victim of a hit-and-run.

It turned out Blake Litton was a victim of child abuse.

Blake died of multiple injuries. T.J. Presley and Jamie Litton have been charged with second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Presley has also been charged with abuse of a child resulting in death. Presley and Jamie Litton have pleaded not guilty.

Hofstetter, who lives in Stover and graduated from Stover High School, knows Jamie Litton.

“I’m a few years older than her, but we went to the same school,” Hofstetter said of Jamie Litton, who grew up in Stover.

Hofstetter was so moved by Blake Litton’s death she started a Facebook page called Justice for Blake Litton.

“Blake’s case is very near and dear to my heart,” Hofstetter said. “We are a group that is wanting to put more information out there about child abuse and get people to speak up so hopefully we can prevent something like this from happening again.”

Through the Facebook page, Hofstetter has networked with other people who are championing justice for victims of child abuse.

“There are several groups that work together,” Hofstetter said. “Our biggest push is to get Dominick’s Law in all states.”

Dominick’s Law was signed into legislation in June in Michigan, giving the state stiffer penalties for child abuse. The law is named for Dominick Calhoun, a 4-year-old boy who was beaten to death in 2010 by the former boyfriend of the boy’s


To honor Blake Litton’s memory and to promote awareness about child abuse, Hofstetter has also organized a parade float recognizing Blake and other victims of child abuse, including Dominick Calhoun, which will be a part of Saturday’s Apple Festival parade.

As a progressive-care nurse, Hofstetter has experience in dealing with life-and-death situations. But Blake Litton’s case left a lasting


“I have worked multiple children codes and we try to bring them back, that’s part of the job,” Hofstetter said. “But Blake’s, by far, has been the worst thing I have ever experienced and the worst thing I’ve ever seen and it’s changed my life.”