By Mark Hallum
The father of a Rockaway Park toddler who died from injuries sustained under the watch of her stepfather Monday night claimed he found out about the incident on Facebook after it happened instead of being informed by the mother of his child.
Mark Jenkins, 32 of Rockaway Park, was arraigned on murder charges by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown on Wednesday and faces 25 to life in prison if found guilty.
Jenkins was charged with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree depraved assault against the victim on Tuesday.
“A child’s death is always a brutal blow, but the manner in which this little girl died is beyond heartbreaking,” Brown said. “The defendant – a father-figure to the tot – was entrusted to care for her and keep her safe from harm. Instead, the defendant stands accused of applying such force to her tiny body that she succumbed to the injury. If convicted of this heinous crime, the defendant could be incarcerated for the rest of his days.”
Kellon Edwards, 35, of Brooklyn told the New York Post he found out about his own daughter’s death over Facebook and had no knowledge Jenkins was living with Bella’s mother, Shamika Gonzalez.
Gonzalez posted to Facebook about her daughter’s death instead of informing Edwards.
“I didn’t hear anything from [Gonzalez] until 7 a.m. [on Wednesday]… Nobody told me anything and when she did reach out, she told me she was ‘sorry.’” Edwards told the Post. “I’ve never had a conversation with him, which seems weird to me that this man never even had a conversation with the child’s father and wanted to take care of her.”
Jenkins was the only adult in the home of Edwards family within the confines of the 100th Precinct with the 3-year-old girl and her 3-month-old sibling for about eight hours on the day the victim was found unconscious by Edwards’ mother, who called 911, Brown said.
The toddler was rushed to a nearby hospital in full cardiac arrest and died soon after arrival. The treating physician noticed bruises on the girl’s face and torso, Brown said.
Preliminary results of the autopsy on Bella revealed blunt force trauma to the abdomen, according the DA. Her small bowel was torn and her small intestine lacerated. Further studies are pending.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at Wednesday press conference that Bella had been struck by Jenkins while in the car with him and had bled to death internally.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall