Reported by Liku Zelleke
There was shock and horror in Barrington, Chicago, when news reports emerged in January that a 7-month-old girl had been starved to death while still in the care of her own parents.
Last Thursday, Mya Edwards was laid to rest in a funeral ceremony that was attended by 150 people who had never even known her. Police officers, firefighters and members of the public mourned her and released a solitary balloon at the cemetery her held for her burial. Her uncle, Joaquin Edwards, was the only family member to attend.
After releasing the balloon, Detective Lori Allsteadt said, “It was great for me to be able to do. It kind of was like the release on this whole thing.”
Mya died in January after her parents, Markisha Jones, 19, and Gene Edwards, 22, replaced the infant’s formula with water, cereal and the occasional glob of baby food. The couple was living on welfare and authorities found that their food stamp benefits had lapsed, with no reason being given as why it hadn’t been renewed.
When the parents called 911 because their daughter was not breathing, officials said that both Mya and her twin, Mia, appeared to be “very skinny.”
Upon further investigation it was found that the couple kept both babies in the same crib, locked in “an unfinished basement that resembled a dungeon.” Mya was found to have died of malnutrition as a result of starvation. Her sister has since been nursed back to health and moved to a foster home.
In a eulogy given by Deacon Jim Pauwels, he said that those attending the funeral should not be thinking of the anger they felt at the baby’s death but should instead mourn her passing. He said, “When we’re confronted with a case of innocence suffering, a case of death coming where there should have been life and growth and promise, it’s not possible to not react.”
Meanwhile, the parents have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment stemming from the girl’s death. Jones and Edwards were first arrested on January 8 after paramedics arrived to find Mya lying lifeless on their dining room table. Their bails had been set at $250,000 each but they are still in jail awaiting trial.