A New York man has been charged after a 3-year-old girl was found dead in a Queens apartment on Monday, April 2, according to authorities.
Her stepfather, Marc Jenkins, 32, was charged with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree depraved assault on Tuesday, April 3, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison, reported ABC 7
Police responded to a call around 6 p.m. to find toddler Bella Edwards unconscious and unresponsive at an apartment on Beach 105th Street near Shore Front Parkway in Seaside, Queens.
When police arrived, Jenkins was attempting to resuscitate her by performing CPR. Police said Bella and her 3-month-old brother were left alone with Jenkins for about eight hours on Monday.
Bella was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police then questioned Jenkins and the toddler’s mother, Shamikaa Gonzalez, on the night of the incident and the 32-year-old man was subsequently arrested.
District Attorney Richard Brown said the preliminary results of the autopsy showed that the 3-year-old had died from a blunt force trauma to her abdomen, reported ABC 7. Other results are still pending.
A police source told PIX11 that the signs of trauma were consistent with abuse and added that the girl’s body was covered in bruises, some of which were new while others were healing. The source also said that there were signs of sexual abuse.
“This is a terribly disturbing case. The victim here is an innocent little girl, whose body revealed traumatic abuse injuries,” Brown said, according to NY Daily News.
The 3-month-old baby boy was also taken to the hospital for medical evaluation. No details about his condition were released. Officials said the child will not be returned to Gonzalez until after the investigation has concluded.
Bella’s grieving mother, Gonzalez, told PIX 11 that her 3-year-old was “the best daughter that anyone can ask for.” She was described as “friendly, beautiful, affectionate, smart, and lovable.”
“She loved and was very affectionate sister to her baby brother Logan,” she said. “She was loved by many who came to know her.”
The New York City Administration for Children’s Services Deputy Commission Eric Ferrero said they were also investigating the case.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of all children in New York City. As soon as this family came to our attention last night, we immediately launched an investigation with the New York Police Department, and we secured the safety of the other child in this home,” Ferrero said in a statement, reported ABC 7.
According to authorities, Jenkins had previously been sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted murder. He served five years and conditionally released by the state Board of Parole in Sept. 2011, reported NY Daily News.
Jenkins is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, April 4.