Two-year-old Jah’niyah White died after she was attacked by a pair of Pit Bulls Saturday afternoon in South Chicago, officials said. The bubbly little girl was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. at Jackson Park Hospital after police responded to a call of an “unresponsive child” in the 3300 block of East 91st Street.
Her death was ruled a homicide.
An autopsy performed on the girl’s small body on Sunday revealed that Jah’niyah had been neglected. She died from multiple injuries sustained in a dog attack and neglect was a contributing factor in her death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The victim’s family says the toddler was in the care of her grandfather when the attack happened, CSN Chicago reported.
State child welfare officials are conducting their own investigation of the grandfather over allegations of abuse. A spokeswoman said the agency has had no prior contacts with the family. The grandfather has not been charged with a crime.
The girl’s father, John White, 21, said Jah’niyah didn’t live at the 91st Street address but was there while her mother was at work. He said he was told the little girl fell.
White said his daughter was a smart little girl. “She talked a lot,” he said. “She liked to play. She knew all the ABCs.”
“I don’t know if Jah’niyah was hurt before the dogs attacked her,” the girl’s grandmother, Britt Williams-Nelson, said. “We don’t know. We just want the person to not be walking around on these streets and live freely while my baby is sitting somewhere cold.”
Erin Lewis, a woman who told the Chicago Sun Times she is a close friend of the little girl’s paternal grandmother, said the two used to take care of the precocious 2-year-old. But that changed when the paternal grandmother started a new job and wasn’t able to do so anymore.
“Everybody is just really in pieces right now,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the family had already started Christmas shopping for the little girl and her siblings. “They may as well cancel Christmas,” she said.
Kashairah Gardner, the victim’s mother, spoke to NBC 5 and said, “I am going to stay strong, because my baby, she hates to see my cry.”
The dogs have been seized by animal control, and DCFS officials have also launched an investigation.
The grieving family said they plan to organize a toy drive in the girl’s memory.