A three-year-old died and New York police have arrested her stepfather for murder.
Bella Edwards was a precocious child until she was left alone with her stepfather, Mark Jenkins. But were their previous signs of abuse prior to this incident? Does Jenkins have a criminal past? We have the latest on this sad story.
Police Called for an Injured Toddler
Shamika Gonzalez, the mother of Bella Edwards, went to work at 9:00 a.m. on April 2 thinking nothing of leaving her daughter with Mark Jenkins. She returned at 5:00 p.m., and shortly thereafter, discovered her daughter unconscious in her bedroom.
When Edwards couldn’t be woken up, 911 was called. Edwards was quickly taken from the apartment at 105th St. near Shore Front Parkway to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, to no avail. She died due to blunt force trauma to the stomach.
As Mark Jenkins was, allegedly, the only person home with Edwards that day, he quickly became the focus of the NYPD Special Victims Unit’s investigation. Further examination of Edwards showed signs of abuse. As to what those signs were, police are currently keeping quiet.
Jenkins also has a criminal record and was arrested on at least four separate occasions. Three of those arrests are currently sealed, but the fourth was for attempted murder. Jenkins served five years in prison for the crime, and was paroled in 2011.
Not much about Jenkins is known. His Facebook page currently lists him as the head chef and kitchen manager at Twist and Smash’d Sports, a sports bar located in Long Island.
Were There Warning Signs?
With many cases of child abuse, there tend to be warning signs, like previous instances where authorities have been called to a home, or a teacher who notices signs of abuse on a student.
New York’s Administration of Children’s Services does not have any records of previous visits or investigation. But as a precaution, a three-month-old baby who was also found at the residence was taken to the hospital for examination.
Shamika Gonzalez is also being looked into as part of the investigation. As an added precaution, the baby will not be returned to Gonzalez until the investigation into Edwards’ abuse and murder ended. Jenkins has been charged with murder and assault in connection with the case.