By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — A far South Side mother was taken into custody after her 7-month-old baby was found with a traumatic head injury Thursday night, and police made not one but two trips to the apartment that day. Now there are questions about the timeline.

Neighbors are left wondering how the woman was able to harm her baby hours after her other two children were picked up by police.

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Thursday the baby was at Comer Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

Investigators say it was a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl wandering around this Pullman apartment complex that raised the red flag. They were taken to a local hospital for evaluation, but their mom and their 7-month-old sister was nowhere to be found.

By the time police made a wellbeing check five hours later, mom and baby were already home, but this time the baby girl was unresponsive and critically injured.

“I see the lady in the street yelling for help, screaming,” said neighbor Lashaun Foster.

A neighbor recorded cellphone video of the disturbance outside her window.

Friday CBS 2 asked the Department of Children and Family Services why there appears to have been a several-hour gap between the wellbeing checks. A spokesperson said unless there’s child death or criminal charges, they cannot comment. 

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“It really, really is heartbreaking that there was help there, but it really wasn’t enough to keep this from happening, to keep these terrible things from happening,” said Stephanie Love-Patterson, executive director of Connections for Abused Women and their Children.

Love-Patterson has been tracking the rise and fall of reports of child abuse in the Chicagoland area — and calls for help — during the pandemic.  

“Isolation has really just served people who harm really well because there’s not a lot of opportunity to intervene,” she said.

She said that a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline call volumes have remained pretty consistently up about 15% from pre pandemic volumes.

It is unclear if this mother has had any previous contact with DCFS.

Police said she was placed into custody Thursday night but was taken straight to a hospital for a mental evaluation.

Neither Chicago Police nor Comer Children’s Hospital could provide a condition update.

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The Cook County States Attorneys Office referred CBS 2 to Chicago police and as of Friday afternoon a spokesperson said charges are not pending at this time.

Megan Hickey