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The Dorchester man who authorities say killed himself Saturday when approached by police to question him in the death of his 6-year-old son had been the primary caregiver for the boy since he was born, court records show.

Patrick Marcelin, who took his own life with a kitchen knife before police could question him, had custody of
his son, Destin Williams-
Marcelin, and had lived with him on Devon Street for several years, according to probate records. Williams-Marcelin’s mother, Nancy Williams of Easton, had visitation rights.

Court records show that Williams and Marcelin clashed over visitation rights and child support. In 2009, when Destin was 1, Williams said she wanted custody.

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“I want custody of my son because his father hasn’t let me see my son in 9 weeks,” she wrote. “I also want my son because I have been doing everything that [social services] has wanted.’’

On Thursday morning, paramedics were called to the Devon Street apartment for a report of a child in cardiac arrest. The child, whom authorities did not name, died at his home. The state’s medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death, authorities said Monday. Test results could take several weeks.

Authorities would not say whether the cause of Destin’s death appeared criminal, but said Sunday that the child had some history of medical issues.

Investigators are looking into the “facts and circumstances of the boy’s death,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office. Relatives of the child declined to comment Monday.

A funeral announcement said services were planned for Friday. In addition to his mother, Destin left four brothers, it said.

Marcelin was not present at the Devon Street home when police arrived, and on Friday detectives learned from a family member that he had spoken about wanting to hurt himself.

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Around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, detectives found Marcelin, 49, at a friend’s apartment on Morton Street in Mattapan. Marcelin answered the door holding a kitchen knife. After a detective asked whether his name was Patrick, he ran down the hall while cutting his wrists, a friend said.

Officers took the knife away, and Marcelin was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Marcelin’s friend, Robert Lee, said Marcelin was not himself Saturday, and said he had had a rough night. Marcelin had paid close attention to the news on television, but said nothing about the death of his son, Lee said.

The family was not involved with the state’s child welfare agency. Previous involvement ended in 2010.

On Devon Street on Monday, residents said they did not know the family, but were saddened by the deaths.


Jenna Russell of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.