CHICAGO — A 3-year-old girl who was found dead in her Dunning home Sunday night died of multiple injuries sustained from child abuse, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Ashley Mendoza, 3, was pronounced dead on the scene at 8:48 p.m. Sunday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Ashley was dead when police arrived and the case was ruled a homicide early Monday. A person of interest was being questioned Monday morning, said Officer Amina Greer, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th) said investigators told him the mother of the child told police two men with guns broke into her house in the 3300 block of North Natchez Avenue and beat her daughter to death.
However, police found no evidence of a break-in, and nothing appeared to have been taken from the home, said Sposato, who said he arrived at the Dunning home just after 9 p.m. Sunday.
In addition, the girl had been dead for several hours when police were called about 8:30 p.m., Sposato said.
"In my opinion, that sounds suspicious," Sposato said. "I'm not the smartest guy in the room, but that sounds hard to believe."
Sposato said the crime was a horrible thing to happen in the usually quiet Schorsch Village neighborhood.
"I'm asking a lot of questions," Sposato said.
Ashley Padilla, 24, lives with husband and three kids upstairs from where the girl was found dead. She said she learned about what happened when cops arrived about 8:30 p.m. and told her.
One of the police told her, "'You know, we have a dead child downstairs,' which is horrifying because I have three children upstairs," said Padilla, who got home about 7 p.m. and heard nothing like the home invasion that the dead girl's mother described to police.
The girl's family was cordial, Padilla said, but her parents could often be heard fighting inside their apartment.
Steven Kispetik, who lives in the garden unit under the girl's apartment, said he often heard loud noises coming from upstairs. On Sunday, there was a loud thud or bang between 3 and 4 p.m., he said.
The family next door also reported hearing one quick, loud noise around 4 p.m.
"We were really shocked," said Diana Borja, a neighbor who stressed how peaceful and quiet the area typically is. "We have two daughters, 6 and 4, so it was really scary to hear."
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