A woman in the South Side of Chicago has been charged with the murder of her 5-year-old stepdaughter.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Lisamarie Villasana, 27, has been charged with beating her stepdaughter, Verna Tobicoe, after she was found unresponsive in a bathtub.
Police were called to the apartment Villasana shared with the girl’s father on Thursday after the woman’s attempts to revive the girl proved failed.
She was then taken to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
The girl had multiple blunt force injuries as well as internal injuries, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The girl’s death was ruled a homicide after the autopsy. Her injuries were extensive and included a lacerated liver, bleeding outside of her brain, cuts on her intestines as well as multiple head injuries. Tobicoe also had older bruises on her body as well as cigarette burns.
The skin on one of her fingers “was ripped off consistent with a bite,” according to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Justin Goldfarb.
Villasana was arrested after law enforcement officials found that she was “the only person present when the deceased suffered injuries which resulted in her death,” according to court documents.
“The allegations in this matter are so severe … you are considered a threat,” said Judge Adam Donald Bourgeois Jr. to Villasana. “You will be held on no bail.”
Villasana claimed that the girl had slipped in Gatorade and injured the back of her head before soiling herself.
The stepmother then allegedly placed the girl in the bath while she talked to a relative on the phone. She then said she heard the girl fall in the bath. When she checked on her, she found the girl face up in the water with her eyes open. The stepmother took the girl into the living room where she and the girl’s grandfather attempted to resuscitate her before calling emergency services.
Villasana and the girl’s father are now being investigated for child abuse and neglect, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Villasana has been charged with first-degree murder.
Villasana had been previously investigated for neglect in 2014. She had also told police that she attempted to commit suicide in the past year by drinking bleach and ingesting pills.
Villasana is expected to return to court on Monday.
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