By Jermont Terry


CHICAGO (CBS) – A young mother was brutally murdered, found in a motel room on Christmas Dday, after her family called police to report that she wasn’t at home to watch her children open presents.

Now, a grandmother is trying to stay strong for her two granddaughters, CBS 2’s Jermont Terry report..

“She loved her babies; she loved her babies, and now she will never be able to see her babies,” said Elisa Hankins.

Elisa Hankins’ daughter, Juanita, dropped her children off on Christmas Eve. The grandmother agreed to look after the girls for only few hours.

“I said, ‘If I call you girl you better pick up,’ ” said Elisa Hankins. “We laughed and she said, ‘Mom you know I’ll be back.’

“Then 8 o’clock came, 9 then midnight … before you know it was Christmas. My daughter would never abandon her kids on Christmas.”

Calls to Juanita’s phone were unsuccessful.

The police investigation reveals Juanita was at a motel off 95th and Vincennes. She drove there, but investigators found her badly beaten to death inside one of the rooms.

“That’s my only daughter,” said Elisa Hankins. “What am I supposed to do? I’m never gonna see my daughter again.”

Juanita’s murder left this grandmother with the daunting conversation on Christmas Day. She had to break the news to her granddaughters ages four and six.

‘The oldest asked, “Who’s gonna take us to school grandma, who’s gonna take us to school?’ ’’

Juanita apparently ended up at the motel with an ex-boyfriend. Someone her mother says Juanita had a restraining order against.

It’s unclear if Juanita was willing to meet the man–who is not the father to her children—at the motel.

But the family says social media video shows the two were together and the ex was the last person with her.

Police told the family they are questioning a person of interest.

The family is seeking financial help to pay for Juanita’s funeral.