Monday, April 2, 3-year-old Bella Edwards was murdered, allegedly, by her mother, Shamika Gonzalez’s, partner. Gonzalez’s partner, 32-year-old, Marc Jenkins was arrested by the NYPD and charged with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree depraved assault. If convicted, Jenkins faces up to 25 years in prison.
According to a family member, Gonzalez and Jenkins were married. However, that has not been confirmed by anyone else.
THE TRAGIC EVENTS
Bella was found unconscious, by her mother, and her mother called the authorities. When paramedics arrived, Jenkins was performing CPR on Bella before she was rushed to hospital – where she later, unfortunately, passed away.
PIX11 News reported that Bella was covered in bruises, new and old, and that there were also possible signs of sexual abuse. A medical examiner has ruled that Bella died of blunt force trauma to the stomach – and according to reports, tests are still being conducted to establish whether she was definitely sexually abused.
The court heard that Jenkins, allegedly, punched (or struck) Bella so hard in her abdomen that her stomach exploded – and the NYPD believe that this heinous act caused Bella to bleed to death. Assistant DA Leigh Bishop said: “It’s really hard to imagine a more violent and horrifying scene…parts of her abdomen were literally ripped apart.” She further went on to describe that, all that was left of little Bella was “blood and other parts”.
Surveillance footage showed that Bella, and her 3-month-old younger brother, Logan, were taken out by Jenkins at approximately 2.30pm. When they returned, at approximately 4.30pm, Bella appeared to be distressed. This leads the NYPD to believe that Bella was assaulted in the car, by Jenkins.
NB. There was an hour and a half between when a distressed Bella arrived home, and when Gonzalez came home and found her child unconscious. That means that Jenkins had no intention of seeking medical assistance for young Bella, yet he had the nerve to perform CPR when medics arrived. Disgusting!
There is also, now, an investigation being conducted by NYC Administration for Children’s Services, and as a result, Logan has been removed from the care of his family.
A STORY WITH MANY BLURRED LINES
Bella’s story has been circling social media, with many people holding her mother accountable for knowing that her child was being abused by Jenkins. It’s easy to read one article and assume that everyone involved is guilty, that’s usually my first thought when the case is about the endangerment of a child, but I know that it’s important to research (everywhere!) first before making an indefinite assumption. I’ve read every article available at the moment, watched every news video, scrolled through the timelines of every social media platform and looked through every Facebook profile of people related to, or friends with, Bella’s family (79 Facebook profiles to be precise.) This is what I’ve understood so far, from my research, along with some questions.
According to medical examination, Bella had old bruises, as well as new injuries. Allegedly, an NYPD detective said that the old bruises were so severe that there’s no way that her mother did not see them. Now, it’s obvious that Gonzalez saw the old bruises on Bella, because a three year old child does not wash, and groom, their self. So it would be ridiculous to say that her mother didn’t know that she had been hurt before.
However, according to one of Gonzalez’s colleagues: “Bella was in gymnastics and dance and was always active playing around in the amount of times she had to come to work with her mom she fell a couple times there alone”. Did Gonzalez ask Bella how she got the bruises, or did she just assume that she had got them from dance etc.? If she didn’t ask, then that would be very negligent of her. Yet, it isn’t clear whether the prior bruises were inflicted by simple accidents, like falling over, or that they were caused by physical assault. That needs to be established by medical examination before assumptions can really be made on that matter.
The police were called twice to stop non-violent arguments between Jenkins and Gonzalez – in June 2017 and January 2018. Who called the police? Non-violent arguments aren’t usually reported to the police unless someone suspects that there is a possibility that things can turn violent. If that’s the case, whoever made the phone-call must have assumed that either Jenkins or Gonzalez could do something harmful to the other. It doesn’t really matter who, for the fact that potentially-violent relationships are just as dangerous as violent relationships.
We live in an it-could-be-worse generation, where people will accept disrespect or abuse by comparing it to something worse, to try and belittle their experience. “He only threatened me, he didn’t actually hit me”, goes to, “he only hits me when the kids aren’t around, so he won’t harm them”, and further to, “he almost killed me, but at least he didn’t kill me”. Disrespect should not be tolerated, at all, and volatile relationships are not healthy for anyone.
Someone thought that there was some sort of trouble in that relationship, for the police to be called twice. Whoever called the police should have intervened for the sake of the children, or if it was the mother then she should not have left her children with that man. Children should not be exposed to violence, especially not within the household.
Jenkins apparently served prison time for an assault, committed in 2002, and attempted murder, committed in 2004. He was approximately 16 and 18 years old, back then. We can look at this two ways. Either he was young and influenced into an early life of crime, which he could have appeared to have turned away from over the past 14 years. Or, he could just be a very violent person – which would have still shown in his actions over the past 14 years. Were there any signs, or did he just snap?
Personally, I would never take that risk, and bring someone into my child’s life if they had served jail time for attempted murder in the past. Why didn’t Gonzalez see this as a risk? I’ve seen a member of Gonzalez’s family state, on Facebook, that Jenkins was Gonzalez’s husband not boyfriend. Yet, they couldn’t have been married for more than three years because Bella was three – and Bella’s parents didn’t part ways until after Bella was born. Doing rough maths, and taking into consideration the fact that Bella’s younger brother – Logan – is three months old, he must have been conceived just over a year ago. Is two years a long enough period of time to know someone enough to be able to trust that they are no longer the violent person that they were in their past – and bring them in as a step-parent to your child? Bear in mind that they could have started a relationship before that, making Bella even younger when she could possibly have been introduced to Jenkins.
It was a dangerous game, and one that shouldn’t have been played because a child was involved. It seems that things moved fast, and when children are involved it is so important to take your time. You should take your time when getting to know someone new, anyway, but even more so when a child is involved – and it appears that Gonzalez didn’t know Jenkins enough. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have left Bella with him, unless she intended for harm to come to her daughter – which I don’t want to believe was her intention.
Another thing that I want to mention is Bella’s biological father, Kellon Edwards. Edwards stated that he wasn’t allowed to see Bella for a year, and that, whenever he tried to see his daughter, Gonzalez would give him the run around.
Many people are using this against Gonzalez, along with the fact that she didn’t inform Edwards of Bella’s murder until after she posted it on Facebook – two days later. It is very strange that she didn’t inform Bella’s father straight away, there’s no disputing that, but this is where I remind you that the responsibility of Bella’s safety belongs to both of her parents. How do you allow the mother of your child to stop you from having contact with your child for a whole entire year, without seeking legal help, or raising concerns with Child Protection Service’s? There’s no information to say that there was a legal order in place that refrained Edwards from having contact with his daughter, and he never mentioned turning up at her house trying to see her – he only mentioned trying to call. Making phone calls is not enough.
It’s very common for men to be quite complacent with doing the minimum, but just enough to say that they tried. This is not a shot at men, because I know a lot of great men that would not do such a thing. However, there are a lot of men who don’t do enough for their children. Gonzalez should not have kept Bella from her father without reason, but Edwards shouldn’t have stayed away without reason either. Especially for the fact that he was aware that Jenkins was “raising” his child, yet he had never met Jenkins before.
Edwards stated: “I’ve never had a conversation with him, which seems weird to me that this man never even had a conversation with the child’s father and wanted to take care of her.” It is weird – for both of them, but the weirdest part is that the child’s biological father didn’t make sure that he spoke to the man that was “taking care” of his child. His female child, at that. It’s the parent’s job to ensure that they know the people that are around their children. Maybe, if Edwards spoke to Jenkins, he could have been able to spot a red flag – and Bella could still be here today.
Finally, this may mean nothing or it may mean everything. One of Bella’s cousins posted the following message on social media: “now this b—h wanna start talking the truth…some of y’all b—–s don’t need to have kids…#SIPBELLAAA…Atleast my little cousin at peace now…cause everybody neeed to go to jail…I swear my mom should of never told me this s—t.”
It’s not clear what she has been told, or who she’s referring to when she says “this b—h”. However, it does raise suspicions that someone is now telling the truth about what happened to Bella. It could be Jenkins, it could be Gonzalez, or it could be someone else. The fact that she said ‘everybody’ needs to go to jail, also raises suspicions that multiple people may be aware of what happened. There were, allegedly, more people living in the same house as Bella, other than her mother and Jenkins, so was someone else aware that Bella was being abused?
Hopefully, as the case progresses, this information is brought to light so that everybody involved in any form of abuse towards, neglect, or the murder of Bella is held accountable for their actions.
SO, WHO’S TO BLAME?
Ultimately, Marc Jenkins is to blame. He is the one that, allegedly, brutally murdered Bella – and therefore should be punished. 25 years doesn’t sound like a long enough sentence, but if that’s the most he can get, he should get it all.
However, Jenkins and Edwards certainly should have done more to ensure the safety of their child. Bella was their responsibility, and the fact that she wasn’t protected is something that they both will have to live with for the rest of their lives. Taking accountability for their actions, or lack of, is vital so that moving forward they will be better parents to their surviving children. (I’m not sure if Edwards has any other children, but Jenkins does.)
SHE’S NOT THE FIRST.
Bella is not the first child to be murdered at the hands of her mother’s partner. Within the last four weeks, alone, multiple children have had their lives cut short, by the cruel individuals that were introduced to them by their mothers.
Jordan Algee Jr. was killed, on March 25, in Michigan. He was five months old.
Iviona Lewis went missing on March 18, in Kansas, and was found dead on March 20. She was two years old.
Aniya Marie Day-Garrett was killed, on March 11, in Ohio. She was four years old. Aniya’s mother has also been charged.
Serenity Hunter-Davies was assaulted on April 1, she was in hospital, and sadly passed away on April 4. She was one years old.
Above, I’ve named four more children, other than Bella, that have been subjected to such tragic abuse within the past four weeks – and, unfortunately, they are not the only children who have been killed recently. These are only the incidents that have resulted in death, too. Plenty of children are being abused, right now, at the hands of their mother’s partners – and nobody is doing anything to help them.
WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR PROTECTING CHILDREN!
Those that have read some of my previous posts will know, I’m all for the protection of children. I care for everyone, but children are the most important to me. The children are the future, they are pure and innocent, and I believe that they must be protected at all costs. You may be thinking, “not all children are innocent, I know a few abusive children, or trouble-makers—“. Children that cause trouble have been troubled. Every baby is born innocent, and what they’re exposed to moulds them, until they are old enough to think for themselves. However, child abuse leads to psychological trauma, and with every child reacting differently, some deal with it by acting out – whilst others become withdrawn. Those children are not “bad” children, they are harmed children. Break the cycle, and seek help for those children!
This article is not to just share a sad story, it is to open your eyes. There is no point in all of us saying “rip” when a child dies, and being shocked when we know that child personally, if we’re not going to do anything to prevent things like that from happening again. Instead, we need to be proactive – all of us. It starts before conception, where people should get to know who they are having unprotected intercourse with. Does your partner show any signs of being abusive/dangerous? If they do, you probably shouldn’t put yourself in a position to have a baby with them. Also, if they are abusive during pregnancy then they are also abusing your unborn child – as foetus’ can feel fear. Are you going to allow your child to be born scared?
Does your partner have other children? What kind of parent are they to those children? Do they have a criminal past – and if so, is it violent? Have they ever made you feel scared? Do they argue with you in front of your children? Are they respectful, not just to you but to others? Do you know what makes them tick? How do your children act around them? The list is endless – of questions that people should ask themselves – before they have a child, and as their child grows. Ask yourself questions all the time, and please talk to your children.
A lot of abuse goes unnoticed because parents simply don’t ask their children the right questions, and sometimes it’s because they don’t know what questions to ask.
Ask them if anyone has touched them. Ask them if anyone has made them feel sad, or uncomfortable. Ask them how they feel, generally. Remind them that if anyone ever tells them to keep a secret, that they must come and tell you – because you are their best-friend and will protect them from anything, and everything. Instil in them the notion that no one is allowed to hurt them, not even you, and that they are not allowed to hurt anyone – to inspire them to always inform you when they feel danger, and to ensure that they don’t cause harm to anyone else. Pay attention to how your children are acting. Are they acting out of character, even the slightest bit? When they are out of your sight, who are they with? Do they like that person? Is that person a good person, and safe person? How does your child seem when they come back to you, from being with those people? Do they look well? Check for bruises. Check their underwear for signs of sexual activity.
The NSPCC has a program called ‘PANTS‘ that can provide you with an activity pack that can help you teach your children about staying safe from sexual abuse, without putting any fear into them. Click here for more information.
Unfortunately, you cannot stop every single bad thing from happening to your child, but you can prevent things from becoming recurring acts – by paying attention. The sooner you spot any problems, the sooner you can seek help, and the sooner your child can start healing. There’s absolutely no such thing as being “too cautious” when it comes to your children.
If you take away anything from this article, please let it be that children do not deserve to be harmed, and they are not born equipped to help themselves. Help your children, help themselves, by teaching them how to be safe – and protecting them from anyone that could potentially cause them harm. This also applies to friends/family that suspect a child that they know is in danger. Please speak up for them, as many are not able to speak for themselves.
Bella could have been anything she wanted to be. She could have went so far with her gymnastics and dance. She could have changed the world, or created something that did, or impacted the lives of so many by becoming a phenomenal woman. Instead, her life was cut short, far too soon, in such a horrific way. Still, we can make sure that Bella still impacts the world with her story, by ensuring that she gets justice and other children do not have to go through what she did.
Rest in peace, Bella, you phenomenal baby girl. My condolences go out to those affected by her passing, and those who have experienced a similar loss.
Thank you for reading, and please share this post wherever you can. Someone that you know may need to read this.
Love and light, abundantly. And let’s keep the children safe!