A Jersey City mother ran out of her house with her lifeless 2-year-old daughter in her arms Tuesday afternoon screaming, "My baby is dead," and prosecutors are investigating what caused the toddler to die.
"The lady came down screaming, 'My baby, my baby,'" neighbor Misty Machado recounted of seeing the woman run into the street just after noon.
"She rang my bell, she said 'call 911,'" said another neighbor, Chadita Peneiro. "I ran downstairs and as I opened the door, she threw the baby in my hand and the baby was extremely, extremely cold. And blue. The baby had foam coming out of the mouth, like it was having a seizure before it died."
"Purple -- her lips, her body, her back, everything. She was just lifeless," said Machado.
"I couldn't believe it. I'd never in my entire life ever seen nothing like that. And to see something like that -- I can't, I can't wrap my head around it," she said.
The mother told neighbors she put the girl to bed Monday night and woke up to find her lifeless just after noon Tuesday. But neighbors said they heard the child crying overnight.
Hudson County prosecutors would only confirm they're investigating the death of the 2-year-old girl in a home on Union Street between West Side and Mallory avenues. They did not release the names of the girl or her mother.
The girl's 4-year-old sister, who does not regularly live with them, had been visiting, neighbors said. The mother also has a son who does not live with her.
Neighbors say the mother and her stepsister moved into the home about a month ago. The neighbors say the women frequently appeared to be high, and there were often men visiting the home.
"All I know, it wasn't the right parent to be having the child," said Peneiro.
Neighbors frequently called police to complain when they saw the stepsisters exhibiting indecent behavior or acting aggressively toward their children. When police stormed the sisters' home Monday night for a report of some sort of break-in or robbery, Machado said she hoped she'd see them take the children out. But the little girls stayed.
"Several days I was worried and thinking something was going to happen," said Peneiro. "Now that the baby is gone, it's like, is there anything I could have done? Is there anything anybody could have done?"
The woman was detained at the scene and placed in the back of a police car, witnesses said, but it's not clear if she was arrested.
Peneiro said she saw the stepsisters digging a hole in the backyard in the early-morning hours two nights ago, and then covering it with a carpet. It's not clear if that's part of the investigation into the girl's death.
Messages were left with Jersey City police about whether authorities ever investigated the woman's home for previous complaints of child neglect or abuse.