Ill. mom arrested 6 years after daughter was found dead in attic following fire in vacant home
04/14/2023 4:04 pm PDT
MARKHAM, Ill. (TCD) -- Chicago-area police announced charges against a woman whose 1-year-old daughter was found dead, wrapped in plastic, and placed in the attic of a vacant home that caught on fire.
According to Markham Police Chief Jack Genius, on July 3, 2017, at 5:38 a.m., firefighters responded to a structure fire at a vacant home on Hamlin Avenue. After extinguishing the flames, firefighters went through the home to check for signs of arson and located the infant’s body in the attic. Genius said he believes the victim was 1 year old.
Genius said in a press conference the home had been vacant for "some time" prior to the fire and no one was living there at the time.
He shared, "The persons who committed this heinous crime chose that location to place the body of the infant."
Police named the victim Baby Jane Doe. Her case went cold for several years until police started receiving tips in 2019 that helped move it forward again.
On Thursday, April 13, Genius announced the child’s mother, Melody Townsend, was arrested in California last month and extradited back to Illinois. She’s being charged with felony child endangerment and concealing and aiding a fugitive. Genius expects additional charges.
Markham Police Sgt. Jessie Jones also spoke at the press conference and said officials issued the warrant for her arrest in 2022.
WGN-TV identified Baby Jane Doe as 2-year-old Ana Marie Townsend. She was positively identified in 2019 using DNA, and the medical examiner determined she died by homicide.
According to WGN, Ana Marie was most likely dead before being placed in the attic. The autopsy reportedly showed she had alcohol, barbiturates, and cannabis in her system.
Townsend is reportedly being held on a $20,000 bond.
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