Austin residents remember 8-year-old girl

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Police officers, community leaders and Austin residents gathered last week in the 5200 block of West Adams Street to remember Gizzell Ford, an 8-year-old girl whose death was ruled a homicide due to strangulation, multiple blunt injuries and child neglect, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.

Gizzell was living with her grandmother Helen Ford and her father, who is bedridden, at the time she died, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Authorities have since charged Ford with murder and ordered her to be held without bail, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

David Clarkin, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said Helen Ford was under investigation for the possible neglect of Gizzell and two other relatives, who had also been living in the Austin home.

Clarkin said the state’s investigation began July 12 after police were called to the home and found Gizzell. He urged people to call the state’s hotline in they suspect any child is being abused or neglected.

“There are warning signs of child abuse or neglect, including never seeing the children,” Clarkin said. “And when you do see the children in warm weather, they’re wearing long sleeves to cover bruises and marks.”

During the July 18th vigil, about 20 attendees held hands and said a prayer in front of a memorial erected in Gizzell’s memory. Community members say they’re still in shock about the girl’s death.

An Austin resident who attended the 45-minute vigil and asked not to be named said she was acquainted with Ford but had no idea anything may have been amiss in the household.

Ford “walked up and down the block and spoke to everybody . . . That’s why it was such a shock. We knew there were two boys there, but we didn’t know the little girl was there.”

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, contact the Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-252-2873. Prevention Child Abuse offers tips on preventing child abuse.

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