The mother of a 9-year-old girl who was found dead inside a Brooklyn apartment after neighbors complained of a foul smell has been arrested and charged in her murder, police said.
Shemene Cato was arrested Monday afternoon, according to police, who had questioned the mom 24 hour prior. In addition to murder, the 48-year-old faces charges of manslaughter, assault, endangering the welfare of a child and weapon possession in the death of Shalom Guifarro, who was found dead in her Crown Heights home Sunday.
The disturbing case was ruled a homicide by the city's medical examiner a day later, after it was found that Shalom suffered multiple blunt force trauma, leading to her death. Neighbors near the home off Lincoln Place where the girl was found said a foul odor was coming from the home before police arrived around 1 p.m. Sunday.
Police said her mother had called 911 in the morning and was taken to the precinct for questioning after officers arrived. A preliminary report stated that Shalom was unresponsive and had "trauma to her body."
The community was in shock after learning the little girl they would see walk to school with her older sister was found dead.
Bart Hubbach, who owns the restaurant downstairs, said his employees smelled the odor Sunday morning and called police to have it checked out before officers arrived that afternoon.
"The girls were very polite, very well mannered. I feel bad because the mom was kind of a nightmare. She was always yelling," Hubbach said.
Other neighbors described the girls as respectful, smart and sweet, and said their mother was a good parent but could be very strict.
The Administration for Children's Protective Services says it is investigating.
"Our top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of New York City's children. We are investigating this case with the NYPD, and we have taken action to secure the safety of the other child in this home," an ACS spokesperson said.