NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a Bronx mother charged with throwing her 6-month-old daughter to her death from a sixth-floor window.
As CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported, Tenisha Fearon, 27, was arraigned Friday morning on a murder charge and held without bail. It was also revealed Friday that Fearon once ran a licensed day care.
Fearon had nothing to say as she was escorted out of the 46th Precinct in handcuffs ahead of her court appearance, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported. But she did make a comment to her godmother, Louella Hatch, who was watching just a few feet away.
“She said, ‘I tried to tell you Miss Louella’ but I don’t understand,” Hatch said.
Hatch still can’t comprehend what happened outside Fearon’s apartment building on Tiebout Avenue Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors said Fearon threw her infant daughter Janillah Lawrence naked from the window to her death as her other children and neighbors watched in horror.
“(She said), ‘I’m going to throw the baby out the window!’ and she was screaming, ‘We’re all going to die!’ and that’s when I figured, ‘OK, this is time to call 911,’” said neighbor Lizette Rodriguez. “While I’m on the phone with 911, I heard, ‘Thump,’ and I started to tell her: ‘I heard a thump. I think she throw the baby,’ and you heard the people screaming.”
Neighbors called 911 and when police and paramedics arrived, they found the baby unresponsive on the sidewalk, police said. The baby was rushed to Saint Barnabus Hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said.
Fearon’s other children — a 10-year-old boy, an 8-year-old girl and a 3-year-old girl — were inside the apartment but weren’t injured and were taken to a hospital, police said. Investigators said they are now in state custody.
Gregorio Lopez, who lives next door to Fearon, said he heard a commotion in the hallway and a man yelling, “Please, God. Please help us!”
Lopez said he didn’t want to leave his apartment because he didn’t know what was happening but went to the roof after the man left. When he arrived there, he looked into his neighbor’s window.
“I saw her naked and the three kids naked and I thought they were all dead,” Lopez said. “And then she jumps up and starts hitting the window.”
He shouted down to some women on the street to call 911.
“I was yelling, ‘Hurry up!”’ he said. “I thought she was going to throw the rest.”
Officers had to take down the apartment door because Fearon wouldn’t open it, police said.
Pauline Bryan, who knows Fearon from the neighborhood, said she had just seen her on Tuesday outside the building.
“She never told me she had problems,” Bryan said. “She’s not a mother like that. May God help her.”
Ann Johnson said she was a longtime friend of the family and had known Fearon’s mother.
“I cannot believe she did that,” Johnson said. “She was OK — I’m trying to tell you.”
The city’s child welfare agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, said it was investigating and was working to ensure the well-being of the three other children.
Police said during questioning, Fearon wouldn’t explain her alleged actions. Her godmother questions if she had postpartum depression and never spoke up.
“My belief is she was sick and just didn’t tell anybody,” Hatch said.
She said Fearon usually appeared happy and confident, and posted pictures of herself dressed up on social media.
“This is a disease and nobody detects it,” Hatch said. “If you’re sick, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Hatch said she saw the whole family on Wednesday, and nothing seemed wrong.
“She’s a nice lady; good mother, and I’m telling you all, her kids were always well-groomed, well-fed and everything,” Hatch said.
She described Fearon as a loving mother and never imagined that her visit Wednesday would be the last time seeing Fearon’s baby.
“You know, that’s an angel,” she said. “God will take care of her.”
Meanwhile, CBS2 has now learned Fearon ran a registered family day care out of the same apartment between 2013 and April of this year.
In a statement, New York State Office of Children and Family Services spokesman Steve Flamisch said: “Tenisha Fearon was a registered family day care provider from 2013 to 2015 with no complaints or violations. Her registration expired on April 30 and she did not apply for renewal. Her program is closed.”
“She was very happy when she got her license,” said Fearon’s friend, Renee Clark. “She gave me cards and everything.”
The Office of Children and Family Services said Fearon’s license allowed her to care for up to eight children. This year, she did not renew it.
Her friends said they do not know the reason.
“They day care was fine. It was immaculate,” Clark said. “It was set up — she had the toys, everything.”
Friends, along with police, also wanted answers on why Fearon allegedly took the life of her own daughter. Late Friday, they were putting out balloons and lighting candles on the sidewalk where paramedics found the baby unresponsive.
The case is the third in three months where a mother has been accused of throwing her infant out a window.
Last month, a newborn girl with her umbilical cord attached was found dead outside an apartment building in the University Heights section of the borough.
Authorities arrested her mother on murder and manslaughter charges, saying she hid her pregnancy and threw the child to her death from a seventh-story window shortly after giving birth.
In August, police arrested a Queens woman in connection with the death of her 1-month-old son. According to court papers, she told authorities an evil spirit had possessed the boy and she was “stopping the pain” when she threw him from a fourth-floor window.
Both women have pleaded not guilty.
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