Indiana mother charged in 2 deaths told police she locked children in closet for 10 hours

By Rick Callahan, AP
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Police: Indiana kids died after 10 hours in closet

INDIANAPOLIS — A woman charged in the deaths of two of her children allegedly locked them and three siblings inside a small closet and left to visit a friend, returning about 10 hours later to find the boy and girl dead inside.

An Indianapolis police report released Tuesday said Edyan Farah, 28, told officers she “was not in her right mind” when she allegedly put her five children in an upstairs closet about 6 a.m. Sunday and placed a large bed in front of the door so they couldn’t get out.

Police said the closet was about 6 feet long and 18 inches deep.

Farah, an immigrant from Somalia, found her 5-year-old daughter, Zuhur, and 3-year-old son, Zakariya, “stiff and unresponsive” when she returned home about 10 1/2 hours later and opened the closet, the report said. She told officers she then carried them downstairs, but did not call 911 or try to revive them, according to the report.

Lt. Jeff Duhamell said the three surviving children — a 7-year-old girl and boys ages 5 and 1 — are now in foster care.

“It’s just a very, very sad case,” he said. “It’s one of the worst ones I’ve seen — to be placed in closet approximately 18 inches by 6 feet and a bed pushed up against it for a minimum of 10 hours. We think possibly a lot longer and probably not for the first time.”

On Monday, Farah was charged with two preliminary counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. She remained jailed Tuesday at the Marion County Jail on a $200,000 bond. Susan Decker, a spokeswoman for the county prosecutor’s office, said Farah will appear in court Wednesday to be advised of her rights but that prosecutors have requested 72 more hours to prepare formal charges.

Decker said she did not know whether Farah had an attorney. She said the prosecutor’s office had no comment on the case, adding that “everything is still under investigation at this point.”

An autopsy performed Monday did not show how the boy and girl died and toxicology results that could reveal that would take three to four weeks, said chief deputy coroner Alfarena Ballew. She said coroner’s office investigators returned to the apartment Tuesday to re-examine the scene.

Police and neighbors said the siblings appeared malnourished, but Ballew said that while the two children’s bodies were thin, she did not consider them to be emaciated or malnourished.

The police report said Farah told detectives that after locking the children in the closet she left the apartment to first speak to a neighbor, then went with that woman to her apartment in the same complex.

Authorities were called to the two-story apartment at Manchester Village Apartments about four hours after Farah said she returned and found the two bodies.

The report said a family friend had grown concerned that Farah was “acting strangely” and would not allow anyone into the apartment for hours after she returned.

The report said the wife of that friend — the woman Farah had visited with — called Farah’s uncle to the complex and that when the uncle looked into an open door in the apartment he saw what appeared to be a dead child on a couch.

When that man tried to call 911, Farah allegedly grabbed his phone and threw it. He retrieved the phone and held Farah while the family friend called 911, the report said.

When medics arrived, the family friend directed them into the apartment’s front living room and pointed to a child laying on the couch and another on the floor, the report said. The medics found both “in full rigor mortis” and neither had a pulse, it said.

Hussein Adam, a cousin of the children’s father, said Monday that the family had emigrated from Somalia about a decade ago. He said Farah’s husband had returned there several weeks ago to visit his parents, but was en route back to the U.S.

will not be displayed