Mother charged with neglect in young girl's beating death

Chasity Parksey took this picture of a bruise on Carmen's face in July.

An Indianapolis mother is being charged with child neglect in the death of her young daughter.

Samantha Ellis, 23, faces one count of neglect of a dependent, a class A felony. She has an initial court hearing Friday at 1:00 pm.

Samantha Ellis is the mother of Carmen Ellis, a three-year-old girl who died last month. She also has a three-month-old son.

Ellis' three-year-old daughter Carmen died in August after being beaten. Police arrested José Cruz, 20, after finding the child unconscious, covered in bruises and wearing only a T-shirt.

Read the probable cause affidavit here. (Note: This document contains graphic descriptions of Carmen Ellis' injuries that may be disturbing to some readers. Names of those not charged have been redacted, along with names of detectives and others involved in the investigation.)

According to police, Cruz beat the child to death while Samantha Ellis was out running errands. Cruz told police that Carmen had soiled herself, then began smearing urine and feces all over the apartment, telling him, "I hate you, Papa." That prompted him to start beating the girl with a belt on her face and head. Cruz admitted to shaking the girl, at which point he saw her eyes roll back into her head. When Carmen vomited and began having seizures, Cruz told police he "blanked out" and "lost it," hitting the girl repeatedly with his hands. Cruz told police he believed his assault on the girl caused her injuries.

In the probable cause affidavit, Samantha Ellis tells detectives that she had noticed fresh bruises on Carmen every time she left Cruz alone with her daughter, but was afraid of taking her daughter to the doctor because Cruz might find out and take his anger out on her (Samantha Ellis). Cruz also told Ellis not to take the girl to the doctor because the bruises "would heal themselves."

Indianapolis Metro Police had no prior complaints or reports regarding Cruz or Ellis in connection with child abuse.

The case has prompted sharp criticism of Child Protective Services. CPS says the claims that it did nothing are not true, but that confidentiality laws prohibit the agency from talking about the case.

Chasity Parksey says she alerted CPS to a problem one month before Carmen's death. In July, she took pictures of bruises on the girl.

Parksey first noticed Carmen's injuries when she went to visit her sister, who was roommates with Cruz and the child's mother, Samantha Ellis.

Parksey said Cruz told her that a "ghost" had attacked the girl when Parksey confronted him about Carmen's bruising, bite marks and overall poor state of hygiene. Parksey reports that Carmen's diaper was soaked and that a patch of her hair had been pulled out.

Parksey said she called police to report the suspected abuse, triggering questions from Child Protective Services. But according to Parksey, that's where it ended. A month later, Carmen Ellis was dead.

Samantha Ellis' brother and his wife told police they babysat Carmen frequently until she was around two years old. At the time they did not notice any bruises on her, but they told police that whenever she was dropped off, she would be dirty, hungry and had bad diaper rash. They also said they had to buy formula and clothing for her every time she stayed with them.

Two weeks before Carmen died, Samantha Ellis' brother told police that she texted him asking if he would take custody of the girl. He said yes but never heard back from his sister.

Samantha Ellis' sister-in-law told police that Samantha would never watch Carmen at family functions, and that Carmen often wandered off because her mother wasn't watching her. She also said other family members would have to keep an eye on the child because her mother would not.

The fiancée of Samantha Ellis' father told police that she noticed bruises on Carmen a few days before the child's death. She said Samantha was aware of the bruises but refused to discuss them.

This is a developing story that will be updated.