Police: Ind. woman faces neglect charges in deaths of 2 of her children at apartment

By Rick Callahan, AP
Monday, September 20, 2010

Ind. woman faces neglect charges in 2 kids’ deaths

INDIANAPOLIS — The mother of two children found dead in an Indianapolis apartment was arrested on two preliminary counts of neglect Monday, a day after their bodies were found in the apartment along with three apparently malnourished siblings, police said.

Edyan Farah, 28, was charged Monday with two preliminary counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Farah, an immigrant from Somalia, was being held Monday at the Marion County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

Police said their investigation was ongoing and Farah could face additional charges.

Firefighters responding to a reported death at Manchester Village Apartments found the 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy dead in the apartment’s living room Sunday night.

Farah’s three other children were taken to a local hospital to be evaluated because they appeared malnourished, while Farah and two adult males were taken by police for questioning, said Indianapolis police spokesman Sgt. Linda Jackson.

The three siblings were later turned over to the care of child protective service.

Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew said Monday that preliminary autopsy results did not reveal how the boy and girl died. She said the causes of their deaths are pending toxicology results that will take three to four weeks.

Ballew said there was “nothing obvious” pointing to how the children had died and she saw no signs of injuries on either child. The children did not appear malnourished considering their ethnic background, age and weight, she said.

It wasn’t clear Monday whether Farah has a lawyer. A message seeking information on whether she had an attorney was left with the prosecutor’s office on Monday.

Hussein Adam, a cousin of the children’s father, said Farah and her family had emigrated from Somalia about a decade ago. He arrived at the apartment Monday morning with five other relatives who had driven from Chicago after hearing of the deaths.

Adam said the family is in mourning and isn’t sure what happened.

“We’re feeling the pain. It’s just kind of a disaster — something we did not expect,” he said.

Adam said Farah’s husband returned to Somalia several weeks ago to visit his parents, but he boarded a flight for the U.S. soon after he heard the news of the deaths.

Neighbors said the children rarely left the apartment on Indianapolis’ southwest side and were often seen looking out of the unit’s windows, waving at people passing by.

Dina Thomas, who lives next door to Farah’s unit with her mother and 13-year-old son, said she and her mother noticed that the children appeared unusually thin.

Whenever the children came outside, she said her mother offered them food.

“They just always look skinny, like malnutrition,” she said.

Thomas said that on Sunday hours before the two youngsters were found dead, Farah and a man were involved in a loud argument that played out in full public view as the pair walked about outside, shouting at each other. Arguments were common at the apartment, she said.

Thomas said an incident that occurred last week as her mother was leaving the apartment now haunts her. As her mother walked to her car, one of the children ran up to her and begged her to take her with her, Thomas said.

“A little girl grabbed my mom’s hand and asked her if she would take her away. My mom didn’t think anything of it, she just said, ‘Oh, honey, you don’t know me. I’m a stranger. Go on back home.’”

Tina Mashushire, who lives nearby, said that other neighbors often remarked that the children’s mother rarely let them outside. About a month ago, she said she was surprised to see all five children outside playing with other youngsters.

“I said, ‘Finally, she let them out,’” she said. “They’re always stuck in the house.”

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