The mother of a nine-year-old girl, found dead in her home above a New York restaurant with suspected bite marks on her back and cuts and bruises to her head, has been arrested, the police said. police.
The girl, identified by police as Shalom Guifarro, was found dead in her Lincoln Place apartment in the Crown Heights neighborhood on Sunday afternoon after neighbors noticed a stench coming from the apartment.
The girl’s grisly murder shocked the neighborhood and officers responding to the crime scenes appeared to be in tears, according to reports.
Shemene Cato, 48, was arrested on Monday afternoon after being questioned following the discovery of the body.
The mother faces charges of murder, manslaughter, assault, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of a weapon in her daughter’s death.
The New York Police Department said the girl suffered multiple blunt force trauma and ruled the death on Monday a homicide.
Police responded to the scene after Ms Cato called 911 to report her daughter was in distress, but upon arriving home they pronounced Shalom dead.
Bart Hubbuch, owner of the Memphis Seoul restaurant on the ground floor of the building in which Ms Cato lives, said staff had complained of a foul smell when they arrived in the morning, but assumed it was from toilets upstairs.
He said hours after a number of emergency personnel arrived and said some were ashen-faced and appeared to be wiping tears as they exited the building, according to New York Times.
“They said it was a horrible crime scene,” Mr Hubbuch said, describing Mrs Cato’s two daughters as very polite and well-behaved.
Other neighbors and Mr Hubbuch described the mother as overprotective who seemed troubled and was often seen yelling at her daughters.
“She was always screaming at her kids so loudly it would startle you,” Mr Hubbuch said. He added that he had never seen her physically abusing her daughters but, “It was like, why are you yelling at your kids like that?”
Police have yet to release a statement in the case. It is unclear how the bite marks or alleged injuries occurred to the girl.
The Child Protective Services Administration said it is also investigating the matter with the NYPD and has taken steps to ensure the safety of the other child in that home.