Devastated neighbors of a 6-year-old girl found severely injured in a squalid Bronx apartment Friday were stunned but hardly surprised by her shocking death.
Cops responding to a 12th-floor apartment in NYCHA’s Forest Houses just before 4 a.m. discovered little Jalayah Eason unconscious with bruising and trauma to her wrists and chest, said police sources. She was pronounced dead at Lincoln Hospital.
Her mother, identified by police sources as Lynija Eason, was being questioned in connection with the death, with no arrests made as of late Friday. An autopsy was scheduled to determine how the little girl died.
Neighbors spun a terrifying tale of steady abuse inside the home at E. 165th St., with police responding to the apartment on numerous occasions for calls sparked by family disputes.
The Administration of Children’s Services was called in at least twice on abuse allegations involving an 8-year-old boy in the home, said a police source with knowledge of the case.
The 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl were found unharmed inside the apartment on Friday, although police spotted bruises and what appeared to be ligature marks from old injuries on the surviving children.
The children’s mother would constantly yell at the kids, neighbors said.
“Last night there was terrible screaming,” recalled neighbor Dennis Rivera. “It was exactly 4 a.m. The little girl was screaming. I had to go outside. I knew something like this would happen.
“I feel terrible that I didn’t call somebody about this. Now she’s dead.”
“I was crying when the detective told me (that Jalayah died),” said neighbor Michelle Abreu, whose sister’s apartment sits right beneath Eason’s residence.
Abreu recalled her sister often saying something bad would happen in the home below. On Friday morning, Abreu called her sibling with news of the girl’s death.
“I hope they find someone to (take) them in and get justice for the little girl because it’s not fair,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.
The son told detectives “Mommy hit me” when questioned, although the child later indicated the attack happened some time ago, a police source said.
Aidan Doviw, a 9-year-old classmate of the son, recalled how the boy often showed up for school in tears.
“When he comes to class, he’s been crying a little bit,” he said. “Like every day.”
Eason, 26, said she called 911 when the child wouldn’t wake up. Someone attempted and failed to perform CPR, although it was unclear who made the effort, said a police source with knowledge of the case.
When cops arrived, Eason was the only adult in the apartment, cops said. Emergency medical technicians noted the marks on Jalayah’s wrists and chest as they treated her.
Eason said Jalayah went to bed at around 11 p.m. When the mom awoke in the middle of the night, she claimed the child was lying unconscious inside her bedroom near the closet.
The apartment was in complete disarray and filthy with clothes and other items strewn about, a law enforcement official said. The Administration for Children’s Services was alerted to Jalayah’s death, cops said.
An ACS spokeswoman confirmed that the agency was “investigating this case with the NYPD” but would not disclose if they were already investigating the mom for abuse and neglect.
“The safety and well-being of New York City’s children is our top priority,” the spokeswoman said without offering any details.
Another building resident said the mom disappeared for a while before returning to the family apartment a couple months ago with a change in her demeanor. The 8-year-old was soon turning up at the neighbor’s home asking for food.
“She wasn’t a bad person,” said the 39-year-old neighbor. “In the beginning, when I first met her, she was a very nice girl. She said, ‘Hi, good morning.’ I seen her taking her son to school.”
Abreu also recalled a time she heard Eason striking her son with a belt through the thin walls.
“You could hear the whooping (of the belt),” she recalled. “ You could hear it. I told my nephew, ‘You hear that? She’s hitting him because he’s crying.’”
Eason lived in Queens before moving to the Bronx. While in Queens, when she was 19, she was busted in 2016 on a grand larceny charge for stealing a co-worker’s credit card, which she used to rack up more than $200 in charges at a deli, a 99-cent store and a Rite Aid, according to court documents.
She was working at a Queens Costco when she stole her co-worker’s card. When detectives questioned her about the theft, she admitted to shopping at the Rite Aid, claiming that she was “buying diapers, a radio and other items,” court papers indicate.
Eason ultimately pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. She was fined $120 and didn’t face any jail time.
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