What to Know
- Ciara Robinson is accused of pushing her 5-year-old daughter, Amatulah "Amy" McLaughlin, down the basement stairs of their home.
- The deadly act came after Robinson threatened to send 5-year-old to the basement with the "Boogey Man," police said.
- Authorities said an anonymous child abuse complaint was made against Robinson in Dec. 2017.
A Chester County mother faces murder charges after police say she pushed her 5-year-old daughter down the basement stairs on Halloween night causing a brain injury that ultimately proved fatal.
Chester County authorities said Amatulah "Amy" McLaughlin’s death was the tragic end to more than a year of abuse at the hands of the girl's mother, Ciara Robinson. The prolonged abuse, prosecutors said, left the girl's body scarred.
"This little girl was severely abused, culminating in her death,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Monday. “No child should have to live like this. Our hearts are broken by the death of an innocent child.”
Paramedics and police officers were called to Robinson’s home along Walnut Street in Parkesburg around 9:25 p.m. Wednesday, police said in a criminal complaint. They found Amy cold to the touch, not breathing and without a pulse, indicating she had been dead for some time.
The resulting police investigation determined that Robinson became angry with Amy earlier in the day. At some point later, the 25-year-old mother pushed the girl down the stairs, the criminal complaint said.
Sitting in a police holding cell after her arrest, Robinson shouted "I wish I never pushed her down the (expletive) steps,” police said. She then added “I shouldn’t have pushed her."
Robinson then recanted some of her statements during a formal police interview early on Nov. 1, police said. Robinson admitted to getting angry with Amy and beating, punching and slapping the girl while threatening to put the girl in the basement with the "Boogey Man." The mother said Amy then fell down the stairs — a distance of about 9 feet — striking her head on a concrete landing, according to the court documents.
Robinson, who worked as a home health aide, told investigators that she carried her daughter up the stairs and that Amy walked herself about 10 feet to her bedroom where she got in bed and went to sleep, police said. Robinson claimed she periodically checked on the girl and later attempted to revive Amy by throwing cold water on her face after finding the 5-year-old unresponsive.
Robinson only called 911 after calling friend for advice, police said.
The friend told police Robinson called her around 8:45 p.m. and said
"I knocked Amy out," "She won’t wake up" and "I’m going to jail."
The medical examiner concluded Amy died as a result of blunt force head trauma that caused extensive brain bleeding and intra-cranial pressure. The autopsy also found signs of abuse including bruising, scars, puncture wounds and strike marks on the girl's body.
Authorities said Robinson had been accused of abusing her daughter in Dec. 2017 after an anonymous tip was made to state child welfare officials. It's not yet clear whether the complaint was followed up on.
Robinson also has a 2-year-old son. He did not show any signs of harm and was taken into protective custody by the county, Hogan said.
Hogan vowed to make sure justice is served for Amy.
“The loss of any child is a tragedy, however, it is horrific that a parent would inflict such sustained and brutal damage to her own daughter," Hogan said.
Robinson was arraigned on third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and related counts and sent to county jail without bail. It is unclear if she has an attorney who could comment on her behalf.