'Horrific child abuse': Philadelphia woman charged with murder in death of 4-year-old

PHILADELPHIA -- The caretaker of a 4-year-old child was charged with murder on Tuesday in what was described as "potentially one of the worst cases of child abuse anyone has ever seen."

Samilya Brown, 38, is charged with murder, endangering the welfare of a child and other related charges in the death of 4-year-old Zya Singleton.

During a news conference on Tuesday, officials said the child had been abused for years and was found with homemade stitches in her mouth, burns on her arm and leg, broken bones, open wounds, bite marks and puncture wounds.

On October 30, authorities were called to the reports of a fall at a home in the 1700 block of Folsom Street. Brown originally said Zya had fallen out a second-story window while playing with a cat. But authorities said they quickly realized that was not the case.

"When police arrived she was in a second-floor bathroom being put in cold water," said Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey.

Watch: Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner announces charges in death of 4-year-old
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Philadelphia DA announces homicide charges in death of 4-year-old girl during a press conference on November 12, 2019.

Zya was rushed to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital but was transferred to CHOP. She died from complications from those injuries on November 3.

"We believe there was no fall," Lightsey said.

"This is a horrific, heartbreaking case of abuse, neglect, and murder of an innocent, defenseless child," District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

Authorities said the last known photos of the child were taken in 2017.

"No one knew what was happening in that house except for the people in that house," she said.

Officials said they have a notarized letter from 2016 giving custody of Zya to Brown by the girl's biological mother. They do not believe she knew of the abuse.

"I would not use the word care. (Brown) abused her, stitched her up, abused her again, stitched her up," Lightsey said. "She burnt her with some kind of scaling liquid and patched her up at home."
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