A West Palm Beach-area mother and daughter are facing charges after a 21-month-old sustained severe bruising, broken bones and sexual trauma while in their care, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office records state.
Tangenika Williams, 43, and Jerquavia Williams, 23, were arrested Wednesday on aggravated child-neglect and child-abuse charges. A judge ordered that they each be held in the Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail. The younger Williams also faces two counts of violating probation in theft and fraud cases.
The younger Williams called 911 on Sept. 3 after noticing the 21-month-old coughing and spitting up blood. She thought the child was having a seizure.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews arrived to the home south of Okeechobee Boulevard in the Westgate community and saw the “extremely lethargic, lifeless and frail” child in the younger Williams’ arms, records state.
The child was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center’s pediatric intensive-care unit. A doctor determined the child was severely malnourished and dehydrated. The 21-month-old weighed 14.7 pounds. Children that age typically weigh between 22 and 26 pounds.
Doctors determined the child also had a brain bleed, a lacerated liver, several broken ribs, broken arms, a fractured femur bone and a broken pelvis. In addition to bruises and cuts across the child’s body, a patch of the child’s hair had been ripped out. The toddler appeared to have been sexually abused as well.
The child had been with the Williamses since late July, records show. The child’s biological mother asked the younger Williams to care for the child while she looked for more stable housing.
The mother showed investigators pictures of the child at that time, proving the child had looked healthy. She hadn’t seen her toddler since late July and told investigators she had no idea anything was wrong.
At least four other children were living in the home where the toddler was, the older Williams told investigators.
Those children told authorities Jerquavia and Tangenika hit the 21-month-old. One said the women would hit the toddler with a belt when the toddler wouldn’t eat or would spit up. The toddler had “lots of boo-boos,” the child said.
Another child remembered on three occasions seeing Jerquavia Williams hit the toddler with a shoe.
Jerquavia Williams claimed the child was underweight and had a cold in July when she first started caring for the toddler. Tangenika Williams said she told her daughter to take the toddler to a doctor because the child hadn’t been eating or interacting with the other kids. She reportedly scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the child for Sept. 11.
The younger Williams told investigators the toddler hadn’t been eating much in the last few days. She said the child would only eat instant mashed potatoes and Pedialyte, a nutrient-rich drink for children. The only other things she gave the child was Gatorade and water, she said. Williams said she had no idea the child had been injured.