When accused child murderer Mark Jenkins walked into a courtroom Wednesday, (April 4) the family of 3-year-old Bella Edwards couldn't contain their anger. “Feed him to the wolves!” one male relative reportedly shouted. "She was three years old!” another family member screamed.
Authorities believe Jenkins beat little Bella to death Monday afternoon while in his car. Bella's mother, Shamika Gonzalez, left earlier in the day for a doctor's appointment. When she returned home, she found Bella unconscious in her bed and called 911. Bella was rushed to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Hospital where she died.
Bella's family reportedly were even more distraught when the prosecutor read aloud the child's horrid injuries. “Parts of her abdominal area were literally ripped apart,” Assistant District Attorney Leigh Bishop said. "It’s an unbelievably violent act to commit against a 3 year-old child.”
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said surveillance footage shows Jenkins with Bella and his 3-month-old son leaving their apartment at about 2:30PM. Two hours later when they returned, Bella appeared "to be in some kind of distress.”
“We believe (the attack) happened sometime in that car,” Boyce said. “She was struck about the abdomen. Further testing needs to be done, but we believe she bled to death.”
The New York Daily News reports Jenkins "immediately" asked for a lawyer when he was brought in for questioning. The 32-year-old, who was the only adult with Bella the day she died, was released from prison in 2011 after serving five years on an attempted murder conviction.
"I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you,” Gonzalez wrote in a now deleted Facebook post. She described her daughter as “friendly, beautiful, affectionate, smart and lovable and the best daughter anyone can ask for.”
Authorities will also test to see if little Bella was sexually assaulted.