A Chicago grandmother was arrested and charged with the murder of her 8-year-old granddaughter on Friday.
After months of systematic abuse, police say 51-year-old Helen Ford strangled and beat Gizzell Kiara Ford to death. The little girl’s body was found covered in bruises, burns and cuts. A wound on her head went untreated for so long it contained maggots, which spread to another parts of her scalp.
When police arrived, the girl’s body was “cold.” She had both old and new injuries, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Ford cried as Assistant State's Attorney Amanda Pillsbury detailed the extent of her granddaughter’s injuries. There were deep lacerations on her buttocks; cuts, bruises and scratches to her face; ligature marks on her wrists and ankles; possible cigarette burns; hemorrhages, fractures, and broken cartilage in her neck and bruises and puncture wounds on her back, chest, and abdomen, according to Pillsbury.
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According to the police report, Ford said she gave Gizzell a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 11 a.m. on Friday and at the time the girl was “really sore” and could not move. She allegedly told the girl she should sit in a hot bath and got her a drink of water, then she suddenly stopped breathing.
Investigators found bloodied twine, cables and a pole were in Ford’s apartment.
Ford told police that Gizzell would get upset that he mother would not visit her and run into furniture, banging her head on things, according to the report. She also claimed her granddaughter told her she was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend.
The girl’s family is horrified by the crime.
Gizzell’s uncle, Osvaldo Mercado, told The Tribune that he and the rest of her mother’s family were not allowed to see the girl for the last few months. Ford would hide her and not allow her to take trips with family.
"Helen blocked everybody," Mercado said. 'She would say, " 'Gizzell can't talk — she's in the shower, or on punishment.' It was an excuse every time we called."
He said his niece was smart and rebellious, but also mature and respectful toward her elders.
"She was outgoing; she spoke to everybody," he said. "It was like one big party when she got together with her cousins."
A spokesman for the Department of Children and Family Services said Friday that Ford was being investigated for abuse and neglect of Gizzell. State investigators are also looking into the possible neglect of the girl’s two brothers, ages 9 and 12, who were also under Ford’s care. Those two boys are now in foster care.
"We want justice and we want answers," Mercado said.
Ford was denied bond.