The woman charged with murder for allegedly tossing her 6-month-old daughter from the sixth-floor window of a Bronx apartment building was licensed to run a day care from her home and city agencies referred children to her care, health officials confirm to NBC 4 New York.
Tenisha Fearon, 27, asked to stop operating the day care in late April and her license expired, a source familiar with the situation said. Health officials do not believe there were any children in her care in the months since her accreditation elapsed.
"Tenisha Fearon was a registered family day care provider from 2013 to 2015 with no complaints or violations," Steve Flamisch, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, said in a statement. "Her registration expired on April 30 and she did not apply for renewal. Her program is closed."
A naked Fearon, according to witnesses, dangled her own baby, Janillah Lawrence, from the window of her Tiebout Avenue building in Fordham Heights Thursday before throwing her to the pavement 60 feet below as her other three children watched in "horror," prosecutors said. Police and ESU, responding to multiple 911 calls after the 2 p.m. window-toss, had to break the apartment door down to get to Fearon, and encountered her screaming and still wearing no clothes, they said.
The superintendent of the building, George Maldanado, said Fearon had an argument with someone next door and the baby was out the window within minutes. He said he had tried to calm Fearon down but "she wouldn't listen to me."
Maldanado helped the first responding officer lift the broken baby from the ground after she hit the pavement in a desperate effort to see if she could be saved.
"We put her down and she was dead already," Maldanado said. "You hold a dead baby in your hand... see how you feel."
The baby was taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital with traumatic injuries, firefighters said. She died there later in the afternoon, according to police.
Three more of Fearon's children — ages 4, 8 and 10 — were in the apartment at the time the baby went out the window, police said. Law enforcement sources say one of the children told police what the mother allegedly did; the others were too shocked to speak. They are now in the care of ACS.
Law enforcement sources say the family was about to get evicted from their apartment.
Gregorio Lopez, a neighbor, said he thought Fearon would throw the other children out the window as well. He said the baby was tossed from the window after Fearon had an incident with her brother.
"Her brother is in the hallway, saying, 'God helps us, God help us.' So it started from there," Lopez said. "Once he disappeared, she went in and took those actions."
Law enforcement sources also say Fearon made incriminating statements to police before asking for an attorney; the name of that attorney wasn't immediately available.
Fearon did not answer reporters' questions as she was led from the police precinct Friday. She was remanded to jail after her arraignment. The judge ordered a psych exam, as well as medical attention and protective custody for Fearon while in jail.
"She's a nice woman – you would never see that," Lopez said. "To take a baby and toss them out the window, you can't be all right."
Fearon's sister said she felt "hurt" for her nieces and nephew. As for what happened at the apartment building, she said, "I have no comment. I wasn't here so I don't know."
Lawrence's case is the third death of a child tossed from a New York apartment since August.
Last month, a newborn girl with her umbilical cord still 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 the fourth-floor window. Investigators were looking into whether postpartum depression was a factor, but no clinical diagnoses had been made.