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Autopsy Shows Toddler Was Beaten to Death

By  Quinn Ford and Emily Morris | January 20, 2013 2:28pm | Updated on January 21, 2013 12:33pm

 Two-year-old Layla Stewart was pronounced dead early Sunday morning. An autopsy showed she was beaten to death.
Two-year-old Layla Stewart was pronounced dead early Sunday morning. An autopsy showed she was beaten to death.
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DNAInfo/Michael Shin

WEST ENGLEWOOD — An autopsy of a 2-year-old, whom neighbors described as a nice, playful girl, revealed that she was beaten to death, authorities said.

Authorities said Sunday that they were investigating the girl's death after finding signs of abuse on her body.

Layla Stewart, of the 2000 block of West 69th Place, was pronounced dead about 2:15 a.m. at Holy Cross Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. An autopsy revealed the girl died of injuries she sustained during a beating.

Officials said the girl's father had a left a 13-year-old babysitter to take care of Layla while he and his girlfriend got ready to attend a party. The babysitter fed Layla a hot dog that made her ill, authorities said.

The girlfriend reportedly gave Layla an over-the-counter medicine to ease the illness and left for the party with Layla's father.

When they returned home, the two found the little girl unresponsive, officials said.

Authorities said they found signs of "aggressive bruising" on the girl's buttocks. A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said Sunday morning the department is investigating allegations of neglect against Layla's father. Layla's siblings are in the care of relatives, according to DCFS. The spokesman said DCFS has never dealt with the family before but declined to comment further.

No arrests had been made as of Monday morning, though detectives are talking to family about the case, police said. A cousin had been babysitting Layla, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Neighbors said they were shocked to hear the news of Layla's death. They remembered her as a nice, playful girl who was a little on the shy side.

Helen Tyner said Layla's death is the second loss the family has endured in less than a year. She said Layla's mother died just before Thanksgiving.

"It's horrible. It's just so sad," Tyner said.

Tyner said Layla is survived by her father and two older brothers. She said she saw the little girl just a few days ago and thought Layla looked very healthy.

"It's just a mystery," Tyner said. "I just can't wrap my mind around it."