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Bond Denied For Austin Woman Charged With Strangling Granddaughter

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Helen Ford / photo from police News Affairs

Helen Ford / photo from police News Affairs

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CHICAGO (STMW) – Bail was denied Sunday for a Chicago grandmother charged with strangling her 8-year-old grandddaughter in the family’s Austin apartment.

Helen Ford, 51, who is facing first-degree murder charges, walked very slowly and with assistance into the 26th and California courtroom, sniffling and whimpering as she approached and then stood before Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. who ordered the woman jailed without bond.Gizzell Ford, 8, was found dead in the family’s apartment in the 5200 block of West Adams Street on Friday morning, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy performed on Saturday found that her death was caused by strangulation, with multiple blunt force injuries due to child abuse and child neglect contributing factors, the medical examiner’s office said.

On Sunday, a Cook County prosecutor recalled how Chicago firefighters were summoned to the Ford residence just after 11 a.m. Friday about a person not breathing.

Firefighters initiallyhad trouble getting into the apartment.When they did get inside, they found the girl’s dead body cold and covered in new and old injuries.The prosecutor said the girl suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

Maggots hatched in the lacerations and spread to the front of the girl’s scalp while she was alive, authorities said.

There were cuts to her face, ears and lips, bruising and puncture wounds to her back, chest and abdomen as well as bruising to the front and back of her neck.

There was a deep laceration to her buttocks, the prosecutor said, ligature marks to the girl’s ankles and wrists and circular burn marks similar to cigarette burns on her body.

Evidence recovered from the home included a pole, twine and cables, some of which had blood on them, according to the prosecutor.

Ford was the only caregiver for the girl and her two siblings.

The girl’s father was bedridden, the prosecutor said, and was incapable of inflicting the injuries.

A man who watched Sunday’s hearing from the gallery later told reporters the victim was his best friend’s daughter. He wouldn’t give his name, but said he’s not sure if the girl’s father knows what happened.

The state Department of Child and Family Services is investigating the girl’s grandmother for possible abuse and neglect of Gizzell and two of her siblings, DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin said. The two siblings have been removed from the residence and placed in “protective custody,” Clarkin said.

It is the first time DCFS has had contact with the family.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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