*Some of the details in this story might be disturbing to read.*
DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Investigators have taken custody of a woman's second child after the death of her 2-year-old daughter.
Police found Tanaja Barnes unresponsive, filthy and with a body temperature too low to measure, according to court records.
Emergency workers responded to the 1800 block of East North Street around 7:45 a.m. Monday on reports of the unresponsive child. When they arrived, they found two-year-old Tanaja Barnes wrapped in a soiled blanket and smelling of urine. They reported her hands, feet, face and head were extremely dirty, and they said her core temperature would not register on medical equipment.
Workers took Barnes to St. Mary’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Preliminary findings from an autopsy showed physical neglect, malnourishment, dehydration and cold exposure. Barnes weighed 21 pounds.
The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) says the second child, who WAND-TV is not identifying, is in its custody.
Authorities had removed Barnes from Davis’s care in 2018 during an abuse investigation. While in foster care, the child was taken to a doctor in July and weighed 25.8 pounds, according to documents. Authorities returned the child to Davis in August 2018.
Officers at the scene documented “the overwhelming smell of urine, feces and rotten food/garbage,” according to court documents. They recorded an interior temperature of 45 degrees, but said the thermostat was on and set to auto at 75 degrees. While police were there, temperatures rose to 58 degrees, they said.
Barne’s mother, Twanka Davis, 21, lived at the home together with her boyfriend and their infant son, police said. Davis told police she last saw her daughter around 7 p.m. the night before. She said she brought the child a dinner of red beans and rice, but the child refused to eat.
Davis told police the home’s furnace was new and worked, but she said she does not always run the heat and had it off the previous night. Davis said the child had a heater in her room but removed it from the child’s room because the heater in her room was broken.
Davis and her boyfriend allowed police to search the two-story home. The home had a strong smell of urine and rotten garbage and signs of rodent and insect infestation. The plumbing under the sink was not connected and the water main to the home was shut off from the inside.
In the bathroom, they reported finding a toilet filled to the brim. In the bathtub, they found a box filled with liquid and debris.
In the child’s room, they found only a toddler bed with no sheets or blankets, empty bottles, debris apparently chewed by rodents and feces.
Davis came to police headquarters Wednesday and told authorities she routinely turns off the heat at the home at night and had turned it off Saturday and Sunday. She also told police she gives the child food but doesn’t control if she eats it.
“Twanka accepted no responsibility for the death of her child,” police wrote.
Davis faces preliminary charges of first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering the life or health of a child.
According to Macon County State's Attorney Jay Scott, only the mother has been charged at this time. He would not comment on possible charges against the boyfriend.
Police say their investigation is ongoing.
Court records show an administrative judge ordered Davis and her boyfriend to correct violations at the home in December. On January 28, the City of Decatur asked a county judge to order the two to appear in court and described "willful and contumacious refusal to comply with the Administrative Judgement."
WAND News spoke with the coroner's office on Wednesday and they say the cause of death was still undetermined.
An autopsy was conducted at the McLean County Coroner's Morgue. The pathology team is reviewing pertinent information relating to the child and are awaiting completion of the autopsy associated testing. Upon completion of the testing the subsequent review the chief pathologist will issue the final autopsy report.
A vigil for the child is expected to take place at 7 p.m. on Friday at 1845 E. North Street in Decatur.