Norma Chagnama Chicago babysitter charged with murdering 4 month old baby, Zury Cruz-Sumba in her care while running illegal daycare center at her home in Albany Park.
A Chicago babysitter is alleged to have killed a 4 month old girl in her care last week and then paying the child’s parents several thousand dollars, telling them that the child was now in ‘God’s hands.’
Norma Chagnama, 29, was taken into custody on Saturday and charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Zury Cruz-Sumba, one day after the child mortally succumbed to injuries she received earlier that week.
Officers with the Chicago Police Department responded to a call Thursday about a medical emergency at a home in the 4700 block of North Lawndale Avenue. First responders found the child unresponsive and took her to a hospital. She died Friday, WFLD reported.
Court documents state that Chagnama had been babysitting Zury at her apartment since late last year, WFLD reported. After one of the girl’s parents dropped her off at Chagnama’s home last Thursday, where the babysitter was watching over other children along with her own two kids, the caretaker allegedly noticed that the child had vomited on her bed.
Chagnama then told of ‘forcefully picking up the baby’ and swinging the little girl over her shoulder to pat her on the back. Chagnama then ‘forcefully’ placed Zury back onto the bed and, seeing that the baby was having difficulty breathing, contacted her mother and told her something was wrong.
‘Trust the word of God’
Zury’s mother rushed to the address whereupon she found the baby limp in Chagnama’s arms and began administering CPR until authorities arrived.
The girl had suffered a significant injury to her spinal cord, had swelling in the brain, and showed hemorrhaging in the optical nerves of both eyes. The baby’s death was deemed a homicide, and the cause of death was abuse, KTLA reported.
The doctor who conducted the autopsy at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office noticed the large subdural hematoma on Zury’s brain that had likely occurred within 24 hours before her death, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jane Sack said.
During a Monday bond hearing, prosecutors said following Zury’s death, the child’s father contacted Chagnama and her husband to inform them of the tragedy. The couple then allegedly went to Zury’s parent’s home, where they reportedly told the grieving parents to ‘trust the word of God’ and then gave them $2,000, saying it was for funeral expenses.
The judge emphasized that the $2,000 payment could either be an act of kindness or something else of a more nefarious nature, KTLA reported.
It was later determined that the Albany Park apartment where Chagnama watched several children was not legally licensed and deemed an illegal daycare center, CBS Chicago reported.
But there was more to come.
Trying to live the American Dream
During Monday’s hearing, prosecutors said that Zury’s parents had both been arrested last month and charged with child endangerment.
The two reportedly left the baby in their car while they went inside a restaurant. Zury was briefly placed into the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services but was returned to her parents about two weeks before her death.
Zury’s mother worked at the Popeye’s Chicken at Kimball and Lawrence avenues in Albany Park, while the baby’s father worked at a slaughterhouse in the Kankakee area, with the father staying at a local hotel from Monday to Thursday before returning to the Chicago area.
Chagnama’s attorney, Niklas Lofgren, contesting the murder rap told WFLD that Chagnama was only trying to help the child, who could have suffered injuries from the attempts to get her breathing again.
‘So obviously Norma’s devastated. We don’t agree with the allegations. We’re maintaining her innocence,’ Lofgren said. ‘We don’t believe that the timeline that the state’s attorney set out lined up with what exactly happened on that day. Norma’s never been in trouble with the law before. She’s always cared for this child as well as other children.’
Chagnama remained in custody with no bond given and is due back in court on February 27.