Grandparents Fatally Beat 5
Two Illinois grandparents, who are charged with first-degree murder in their granddaughter's death, allegedly told police that 5-year-old Jada Moore was whipped with a belt as punishment for having bathroom accidents, according to newly revealed court documents.
"I was beating my little granddaughter and now she is out of it," Klent Elwoods allegedly told a 911 dispatcher last week during a call seeking help for the little girl, prosecutors said in court on Monday, according to local media reports.
Police arrested Elwoods, 62, and his wife Lisa Jones, 57, both of Park Forest, on Friday after their grandchild was found unresponsive at their home on Osage Street, according to Park Forest Police Department (PFPD). Moore died from her "multiple" injuries at Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago the next morning, police said in the incident report. Elwoods and Jones, both charged with first-degree murder, appeared in court on Monday where they were denied bond, according to local media reports citing the bond proffer.
During the hearing, prosecutors with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) alleged that both Elwoods and Jones confessed to regularly beating their young granddaughter, who was placed in their care for a "better home life." Prosecutors say the grandparents used a belt, their hands and a shoe to dole out physical punishment.
An autopsy found that the little girl suffered "bruises, abrasions and scars" all over her body and her death was ruled a homicide by multiple injuries due to child abuse, according to a Cook County Medical Examiner's Office report obtained by local media outlets.
Newsweek reached out via email on Wednesday to the PFPD, CCSAO and Cook County Medical Examiner's Office for comment.
It is unclear if Elwoods or Jones had attorneys representing them in court Monday, according to local media.
The little girl's numerous wounds were in "various stages of healing," which prosecutors argued in court was an example of frequent and prolonged abuse.
The autopsy also showed injuries so severe, they're more commonly seen in car-crash victims, according to prosecutors, who said that Moore sustained "internal avulsion pockets," or contusion pockets, in her back, buttocks and legs.
"Avulsion pockets are commonly seen in car accident injuries due to the force required to cause such an injury," according to the proffer, obtained by WMAQ. "The avulsion pockets are indicative of the victim losing blood into the soft tissue and are more dangerous in children due to their overall lower volume of blood."
Moore also suffered from bleeding in the area between her brain and skull, the autopsy showed.
Jones told authorities that she and her husband started abusing the little girl "as early as one month" after Moore was placed in their care for "a better home life," a prosecutor said during the hearing, according to local outlet ABC7.
Moore had been under the care of Elwoods and Jones since March, after a visit to Elwoods' daughter in Georgia, court documents show. While there, they learned Moore's mother had "fallen on hard times" and needed a place for Moore to stay. The couple took the little girl back to Illinois to live with them at their Park Forest home.
The day before Moore's death, prosecutors said, Jones confessed that her husband whipped the little girl with a belt multiple times because she had defecated on herself.
Jones, according to the incident report, said that Moore had a history of "pooping on herself," and during the last incident, Elwoods told her he was "going to punish her by whipping her with a belt."
At roughly 8:30 p.m., the grandparents discovered that Moore had another accident, according to the report, which noted that Elwoods and Jones then asked their granddaughter why she had defecated on herself.
Elwoods then "reminded" Moore what he would do if she had another accident, and, according to the report, he grabbed a belt and had the little girl bend over before striking her on the "buttocks between 10 and 12 times."
With each hit of the belt, Moore fell onto the floor, Jones allegedly told police, adding that on the final strike, the 5-year-old did not get up.