NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The mother of a young girl found dead from severe malnutrition and an untreated broken leg, and a woman who helped care for the child, both pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and a host of other charges related to the alleged abuse of the girl and her surviving siblings.
Attorneys for the child's mother, 30-year-old Venette Ovilde, also known as Krisla Rezireksyon, and her roommate, 24-year-old Myriam Janvier, entered pleas on their behalf in state superior court in Newark. The women are in custody on $500,000 bail each.
Eight-year-old Christiana Glenn was found dead in May 2011 in her family's Irvington apartment. The Essex County prosecutor's office said she had died of severe malnutrition and a fractured femur that had gone untreated. Christiana's injured and emaciated younger siblings were taken from the home alive. Now ages 7 and 8, they have been placed in foster care and are improving, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that between Aug. 1, 2010, and May 22, 2011, Rezireksyon and Janvier starved Cristiana and her siblings, regularly restrained the three children by tying them to a radiator, withheld medical treatment for Cristiana's broken leg, one child's broken arm and foot, and the other child's fractured finger, and kept the children out of school and not properly home-schooled. The children were also forced to kneel on salt with heavy objects on their heads for hours at a time, according to the indictment.
At the time of the women's arrests, family and acquaintances recalled how the women, who were both born in Haiti but came to the U.S. at a young age, had seemed like normal neighborhood girls until around 2009, when they radically altered their lifestyles after coming under the sway of a man they described as their religious leader.
The two started dressing in head-to-toe white clothing and headdresses, dressed the children all in white, removed all their furniture and belongings and piled them in a heap on the front sidewalk, and covered the floors and doorways of the apartment with white material, their landlord, William Weathers, recalled at the time of the 2011 arrests. Weathers described how he frequently heard loud chanting or prayers in Creole and French coming from the women's apartment.