By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman was ordered held without bond after she was charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of her 5-year-old daughter on Chicago’s West Side.

Simone Austin, 27, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Serenity Arrington, according to police and Cook County prosecutors. A judge denied her bail at her bond hearing on Monday.

Detectives and prosecutors said Austin cut Serenity’s throat in front of her 8-year-old sister, using a serrated knife.

 

At Austin’s bond hearing, prosecutors said Serenity’s mother had asked the older girl to leave the room, and she watched through a hole in the doorknob as Austin pulled the knife out from under a pillow and cut Serenity’s neck.

The sister screamed and then saw Austin stabbing Serenity. Prosecutors said the sister tried to pull Austin off Serenity by her hair. Her grandfather, who was also living in the same apartment, had gone out to get coffee at the time, and came back to find the front door locked. When he went to the kitchen door in back, the daughter told him “her mommy killed her little sister.”

“Keep that child in your thoughts and prayers, because this will obviously be with her for the rest of her life,” said Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan.

Prosecutors said the grandfather saw Austin undressing when he got inside the apartment, and immediately went out to the porch as the older sister ran outside yelling that her mom had killed her sister.

Simone Austin is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 5-year-old daughter, Serenity Arrington. (Source: Chicago Police)

That’s when Austin brought Serenity outside and laid her down on the grass. Neighbors saw her bleeding profusely from a gash in her throat, and heard her mother apologizing, saying “she shouldn’t have done this,” prosecutors said.

Paramedics rushed Serenity to Stroger Hospital of Cook County, where she was later pronounced dead from multiple stab wounds. Prosecutors said one of the wounds to her throat went almost completely through to the back of her neck.

Serenity Arrington

Serenity Arrington (Credit: @lhfirm)

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been called to the home in the past, but the details were not immediately available.

“We’ve had previous calls there for domestic violence where the mother was the victim of domestic violence and other people in the family called,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said on Monday.

Supt. Brown said Chicago Police would send us more information about domestic violence related calls, but as of late Monday, we had not received the information we requested.

Prosecutors said Serenity’s older sister told investigators about a previous incident when she saw her walking around with a knife because the little girls had spilled some eggs on the porch.

Austin does not have a prior criminal background, officials said. Her defense attorney said she dropped out of high school and her parents were living on the street. She worked at Walmart until May 2020 where she stocked shelves. There is no indication that she has ever harmed her children before.

Neighbors said they saw Serenity just the other day, and now they can’t believe she is gone. They described her as happy and friendly.

“It’s just sad, just out of nowhere,” said neighbor Jose Maljar. “I seen her just yesterday and today in the morning she’s gone. It’s just sad.”

It is not clear what led to the stabbing, but Austin walked up to officers and was taken into custody at the scene. Detectives earlier said they were investigating to see if Austin has a history of mental illness.

“Detectives are looking into that, so they’re touching base with that and with DCFS and everything else,” said police News Affairs Officer Jose Jara.

Austin invoked her right to remain silent once police arrived, so specific explanations about a motive have not been released.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Maryville Crisis Nursery spoke alongside police Monday to talk about free short-term care for parents in distress and experiencing a crisis.

The Maryville representative talked about how since the reopening to Phase 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic in the city, their crisis nursery has seen an increase in the number of calls.

The crisis nursery is urging parents who are feeling stressed to get the help that they need.

Austin’s next hearing it set for Oct. 19.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey contributed to this report.