A California mother has been charged with murder for allegedly drowning her wheelchair-bound, 9-year-old daughter in a bathtub and leaving her body there for several days.
Khadiyjah Aliyyah Pendergraph, 32, was charged on Tuesday with one felony count of murder after her daughter was found dead in their Westminster apartment on Friday, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Pendergraph’s daughter, Victoria, was confined to a wheelchair and could not speak.
Pendergraph was arrested by police in a grocery store parking lot in Aliso Viejo on Friday, the same day Victoria’s body was discovered decomposing in a bathtub in the apartment they shared.
Police conducted a welfare check on the girl just before noon, and when officers forced their way inside the home, they discovered the girl's body with signs of trauma, police said, according to Fox 11.
The girl’s father had called the police on Friday to report his daughter was missing and to request a welfare check on the little girl and her mother. The request followed concerning messages he received from his ex-wife regarding their daughter, prosecutors said.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the girl’s father attempted to pick his daughter up as scheduled on Thanksgiving, but the apartment door was locked and no one answered the door. He later raised the alarm to the police.
Pendergraph claims she attempted suicide at least once in the days following her daughter’s death, prosecutors said.
"While families across America sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones, this little disabled girl’s lifeless body was left to rot in a bathtub after being drowned by her own mother," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
"Words simply do not exist to express the utter heartbreak knowing this little girl could not even scream for help as her mother pushed her underwater and cut her life so tragically and so unnecessarily short."
Pendergraph faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.