Mother Accused of Drowning Nonverbal 9-Year-Old Daughter

( – A California mother has been charged with murder after authorities found her daughter dead in a bathtub. Khadiyjah Aliyyah Pendergraph, from Westminster, is accused of murdering the severely disabled 9-year-old who was wheelchair-bound and could not speak. Police arrested the 32-year-old at a grocery store after officers found the decomposing child following a welfare check request from her father.

A statement from the District Attorney’s office said the father was scheduled to collect his daughter for Thanksgiving, but nobody answered the door when he arrived at Pendergraph’s apartment. He subsequently called the police.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, “While families across America sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones, this little disabled girl’s lifeless body was left to rot in a bathtub.”

The girl’s father claimed he had received “concerning messages” from her mother, and the District Attorney told reporters Pendergraph claimed the child was suicidal. However, the condition of the youngster suggests she did not die from suicide – police said the young girl’s body showed “obvious signs of trauma.”

If convicted, Pendergraph faces a potential 25-year prison sentence.

Known in psychology as “maternal filicide,” the phenomenon of mothers killing their young children is disturbingly common, and when child murders occur, parents are almost always the primary suspects. According to the National Library of Medicine, mothers who kill their children are usually in their late 20s, suffer from severe mental illnesses, including psychosis, and are often plagued with suicidal ideation – between 16% and 29% of such mothers kill themselves after killing their child.

A clinical study of mothers found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, conducted in 2005, found that 72% had previously been treated for mental illness, 69% suffered audio hallucinations, 49% suffered from depression, and 38% carried out the killing while pregnant or just after giving birth. It also found that 72% had suffered severe trauma, such as incest, during their own childhood.

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