SMYRNA, Ga.—A young mother is being praised as a hero after her dying act was to save her six-month old child.
On Saturday night, Jessica Arrendale, 33, went out with the father of her six-month old child, Cobie. The child’s father, 30-year-old Antoine Davis, is a former Marine who served in Iraq.
As Arrendale’s mother, Teresa Ionniello, recounts, at some point in the night, Davis became belligerently drunk and abusive. As Ionniello said, such behavior was not unprecedented from Davis; however, Arrendale never seemed to be able to turn Davis away.
At around midnight, Davis allegedly chased Arrendale up the stairs of her three-story townhome in the Oakdale Bluffs subdivision.
According to Ionniello, Arrendale tried to defend herself with a baseball bat.
Davis, however, overpowered her, and reportedly struck her several times with the bat. Ionniello said that Cobie, who was being held in Arrendale’s arms, may also have been hit in the head by the bat; the child has a traumatic head injury.
When Arrendale locked herself in the bathroom, Davis got his gun, an assault rifle outfitted with a suppressor.
As reported by WSB Radio, he then burst into the bathroom and, while Arrendale was still holding Cobie, shot the young mother in the head.
Ionniello said that police “don’t know how she was able to twist her body and fall literally in the opposite direction.” Thus, instead of falling onto the floor, Arrendale reportedly fell over the toilet—and dropped her young child into the water-filled bowl.
“She had pure will,” Ionniello said of her daughter. “She wanted that baby to live.”
Ionniello said that Davis then, believing both mother and child to be dead, walked into the baby’s room and shot himself.
“She was the hero,” Ionniello said, “because her last breath was saving the child.”
Smyrna police, not knowing that Arrendale and Davis were already dead, were hesitant to rush the house for fear of sparking violence. Ionniello said that officers sent in a robot, but it was unable to negotiate the stairs of the three-story building.
The baby remained in the toilet, covered by her mother’s body, for 13 hours before officers finally stormed the home and rescued her. The child was rushed out to a waiting ambulance, and is still being treated at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital.
Ionniello, who already cares for Arrendale’s 15-year-old daughter, hopes to bring the baby home soon. A fund set up to offset the expense of Arrendale’s funeral and her children’s educations costs has already raised nearly $8,000.