CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 Chicago is learning more about how two toddlers died at a South Shore apartment building yesterday. People who met the mom at an emergency shelter in the days before said she was begging for help.
The Cook County medical examiner says two-year-old Jontavious Newell died from falling from a window.
Seven-month- old Ameer Newell died of multiple injuries and was found in a bathtub full of water.
Police suspect they were killed by their own mother, Aleah Newell, who jumped out of an 11-story window. She is in critical condition.
Newell is also accused of stabbing her own grandfather, who survived.
Late this afternoon, the Salvation Army confirmed that Newell stayed at the Shield of Hope shelter on Monday and Tuesday and left Wednesday morning.
A spokesman declined to get into details of why Newell stayed and then left the facility. “We continue to pray for the family and those impacted by this tragedy,” Salvation Army spokeswoman Jackie Rachev said.
CBS 2 has also learned that Newell was arrested last February when she opened an emergency exit on a CTA train while it was moving.
She was five months pregnant at the time.
Investigators will arrest Newell if the 20-year-old survives.
As they wait on her recovery, her whereabouts just days before the horrific crime may give us clues that led to the deaths of her children.
Adrianne Thomas says she met Newell at Shield of Hope.
She said something was off about the young mom.
‘We felt so bad we started talking to her trying to make sure you know, she was OK,” said Thomas. “She asked one of the persons in there, have you ever been in a mental hospital? “
Thomas said Newell also asked for help.
“She said when she first got here to intake, she asked them to take her kids, she couldn’t take care of them. They told her no, she had to do it on her own.”
Here are the options if someone no longer wants a child, according to DCFS:
- Transfer guardianship through the courts; or
2. Relinquish your baby through the safe haven law, though that’s only for infants up to 30 days old.
Otherwise, a trained DCFS social worker will refer parents to programs to help you care for your kids.
Was the Salvation Army required to report Newell’s behavior to DCFS?
It depends who the mother spoke with at the shelter.
Only people in certain roles are considered mandated reporters.
DCFS said this will likely be part of their investigation.
“That’s devastating for somebody that begged for help and no one helped and now the kids are just gone,” said Thomas.