WESTMINSTER, Calif. — A California woman was charged with murder on Tuesday in the drowning death of her disabled 9-year-old daughter, four days after her arrest, prosecutors said.
According to Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Kimberly Edds, Khadiyjah Aliyyah Pendergraph, 32, of Westminster, was charged after police found her daughter’s body decomposing in the bathtub at their home, The Orange County Register reported.
The child was wheelchair-bound and unable to speak, Edds said.
The girl’s father, who is divorced from Pendergraph, called police earlier Friday to request a welfare check after receiving “concerning messages from his ex-wife regarding their daughter,” KTLA-TV reported.
The man had come to the Westminster residence where his ex-wife lived to pick up his daughter, but the apartment was locked and no one answered the door, according to the television station.
Westminster police Sgt. Edward Esqueda said that officers responding to the scene forced their way inside and found the girl alone with “obvious signs of trauma,” KABC-TV reported.
Officers said that Pendergraph allegedly left the child in the bathtub for several days. Officers said she claimed to attempt suicide “on more than one occasion” after her daughter’s death, according to the television station.
Pendergraph was identified as a person of interest after police entered the residence, the Los Angeles Times reported. She was located and arrested in a grocery store parking lot in Aliso Viejo by Westminster police detectives, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“While families across America sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones, this little disabled girl’s lifeless body was left to rot in a bathtub after being drowned by her own mother,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Words simply do not exist to express the utter heartbreak knowing this little girl could not even scream for help as her mother pushed her underwater and cut her life so tragically and unnecessarily short.”
If convicted of the charges, Pendergraph faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison, according to a news release from the district attorney’s office.