A man has been arrested for allegedly killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. The New York Times is reporting that the toddler, Bella Edwards, was unresponsive when police officers and medics were called to a Queensbridge apartment.
When the respondents arrived, they found Mark Jenkins, 32, performing CPR on the 3-year-old girl.
Jenkins was not Bella’s father, though he shared a 3-month-old son with the girl’s mother—Ms. Gonzalez. Jenkins had been tasked to watch the kids for eight hours on Easter Monday, while their 25-year-old mother and 50-year-old grandmother were at work.
When both women returned from work around 5 p.m., Jenkins told them that Bella was taking a nap. Gonzalez had gone to check on her daughter around 5:50 p.m. and discovered that she could not wake up her daughter.
According to court sources, Jenkins called 911 about 10 minutes later. However, when paramedics rushed Bella to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, she was confirmed dead upon arrival.
Authorities began to suspect that the tot had not died of natural causes after discovering bruises on her thigh, ankle, and abdominal area. The injuries were at various stages of healing with some of the injuries looking old while others looked recent.
A post-mortem examination eventually revealed that Bella Edwards had died from blunt force trauma to her abdomen.
Additionally, the medical examiner revealed that the injuries to the little girl’s lower body were synonymous with sexual abuse. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Mark Jenkins was charged with second-degree murder with depraved indifference and assault. The 32-year-old is expected to be arraigned in a criminal court on Wednesday and more charges are expected to be piled on him as investigations ensue.
Queens district attorney Richard Brown described the crime as a disturbing one.
“This is a terribly disturbing case. The victim here is an innocent girl whose body revealed traumatic abuse injuries.”
The 32-year-old stepfather had been arrested four times and was convicted of attempted murder after shooting a 20-year-old man in the back, per a report from the New York Daily News.
He served five years in prison before he was conditionally released in September 2011. His supervisory release ended in 2016.
Jenkins faces 25 years to life if he is convicted for the death of little Bella Edwards.
In a Facebook tribute to her daughter, Shamika Gonzalez said she was sorry that she was not there for her daughter.
“Bella, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you. This feels like a bad dream I can’t wake up from.”
A candlelight vigil is expected to be held for Bella on Wednesday evening in front of their home. Gonzalez implored people to come with balloons in red and pink—Bella’s favorite colors.