Woman, 20, charged with killing her 2 young children, stabbing grandfather in South Shore

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CHICAGO — The woman accused of killing her two young children and stabbing her grandfather before jumping out of a South Shore high-rise has been charged and denied bail.

Aleah Newell, 20, was charged Saturday with one count of attempted first degree murder and two counts of first degree murder.

Police were called to the Water's Edge Apartments in the 7200 block of South Shore just before 2 a.m. Thursday. Upon arrival, officers discovered Newell and her 2-year-old son, Johntavious, on the ground outside the building.

Inside the apartment was her 70-year-old grandfather, Cordell Walker, who was stabbed 10 times, and her 7-month-old son in the bathtub. Authorities said Newell stabbed the baby 19 times in the head and left him to die in the tub, with cuts on his face and blisters from scalding hot water.

Newell did not appear at Saturday's bail hearing because she is still recovering at University of Chicago Medical Center, a Chicago police officer testified at the hearing. Her grandfather is hospitalized in critical condition but was expected to live, prosecutors said.

She was denied bail as she recovers.

On Friday, Zera Newell came to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office to view the bodies of 2-year-old Johntavius and 7-month-old Ameer.

Johntavious (2 years old), Ameer (7 months old). Photos courtesy of family

"I don't know how they're going to look," Newell said. "But I'm going to be brave because I'm never going to see them again. I can't hear them laugh, cry... play with their cousins no more."

Newell said her daughter left home before the murders.

“She left home. I didn't know where she was at,” Newell said. “She called and said she was in the shelter."

Newell said her daughter told her she had to her life together.

“I told her ‘I’ll take care of the kids,'” Newell said.

Women at the Shield of Hope Shelter in Humboldt Park said Aleah Newell came there on Dec. 30 seeking help. She reportedly left two days later.

A woman at the shelter said, "She was clearly in need of help."

"She was like, fed up," Adrianne Thomas said. "She didn't know what to do.

Thomas said Newell was in the shelter's lunchroom  saying, "I can't do it, I can't take care of them."

After seeing the news, she was devastated.

"It was wrong for them not to help her," she said. "She told us that she asked them during intake, [and said], 'Well I asked them if they could help me, and they said they couldn't help me. I had to do it on my own.'"

Zera Newell said her daughter had been living with her, but wanted to start her own life. She wishes something more could have been done.

“They should have helped her, if they knew she wasn't fit they should have called me,” she said. “They could have called a member of the family to get the kids. So to me, they're responsible for it too.”

Shield of Hope issued the following statement Friday evening.

"Shield of Hope, an emergency homeless assessment and rapid-response center, houses up to 152 people every night. Despite reports in recent days, no family has been, nor will be, turned away. Our doors are open to all who seek respite.

For the safety of our clients, we cannot release specifics on requests for services of individual clients. However, we can confirm that the family in question received shelter on 12/30 and 12/31, and left on the morning of 1/1. We continue to pray for the family and those impacted by this tragedy."

The young boys were Chicago's first homicides of 2020.

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