Markisha Jones, 19, and Gene Edwards, 22, have been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment in relation to the death of their 7-month-old daughter, Mya, the Chicago Tribune reports. The arrests were made several months after Mya’s death, which according to prosecutors was caused by starvation at the hands of her parents.
Investigators say that the child starved to death after her parents decided to begin mixing her cereal with water and baby food instead of formula. It’s speculated that the couple did this to conserve money. Barrington paramedics arrived at the couple’s Chicago area home on Jan. 8, where they found an unresponsive Mya. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Prosecutors say that Mya was just as skinny as her surviving twin sister, Mia.
After several months of investigating, the Cook’s County Coroner’s Office declared Mya’s death a homicide due to malnutrition from starvation. The couple was officially arrested and charged last Friday. They are being held in lieu of $250,000 bail. Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Grissom says the parents left their twin babies in a single crib, that was located in “an unfinished basement which resembled a dungeon,” almost all of time. They remained in the space, which was only warmed by a floor heater, during the winter months—even though their parents were offered the use of an upstairs bedroom.
Grissom says Edwards noticed that Mya was losing weight, but admitted to doing nothing to look into the issue. Neither of the twins had been seen by a doctor since the previous summer. As for their supplemental nutritional benefits courtesy of the WIC program, Edwards and Jones had somehow allowed them to lapse. Mia was hospitalized for months after her sister’s death and thankfully, her weight and health have improved. She has since been placed in a foster home.
“At this point, I don’t know why they did what they did,” Barrington Police Chief David Dorn told the Daily Herald on Friday. “Our whole statement throughout this has been how incredibly sad it is.”
Edwards and Jones are due back in court on Wednesday.