JEFFERSON PARK — The 5-year-old girl kept asking the detective one question after police discovered her bruised and cut from domestic abuse: "Will you be my daddy for Christmas?"
Area Central Detectives Joseph Mancilla and Pamela Childs, heartbroken by the situation, answered yes and are now collecting gifts and starting a trust fund for the girl and her 6-year-old brother, they said at a press conference Saturday.
The children were allegedly abused by grandmother Goldine Williams, 47, of the 7500 block of South Kingston Avenue in South Shore, with whom they had lived for four years, police said. Williams was arrested late last month for striking, beating and burning the toddlers.
"This is one of the worst [cases] in a long time," said Childs, who has worked with special victims for 20 years.
The children attended Finkl Elementary School, and one day, a teacher noticed that the boy was limping, police said. When asked what happened, the boy "broke down," saying he couldn't handle seeing his sister getting hurt any more, police said.
But when Mancilla and Childs attemped to learn what happened, the girl said little. She kept crying for "daddy." Then, Mancilla said, the girl ran into his arms, grabbed his face, and asked over and over: "Will you be my daddy for Christmas?"
"It felt like a Lifetime movie or something," Mancilla said.
After the detectives agreed, the girl rattled off her Christmas list: princess cake and princess stuff. Police have been collecting gifts, including princess items for the girl and Transformers toys for the boy, that they will deliver on Christmas Eve. Currently, the children are staying with family.
Giving gifts is more than just a kind gesture for Christmas. It's way for the children to trust an authority figure after being estranged from biological parents and allegedly abused by a grandmother, Childs said.
"It's so that they can understand that we're the police, and we're good people," she said. "You can trust us."
While the girl wanted princess-themed toys, the boy only had one Christmas wish, the police said: To see his sister stop getting hurt.
"This is a six-year-old kid," Mancilla said. "It kind of blows you away."
People interested in donating toys, clothes, shoes or money for the children can leave items at the 2nd District reception desk at 5101 South Cottage Grove Ave.