Girl, 9, was found dead in her Brooklyn home with cuts to her head and bite marks

A 9-year-old girl died at her home in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon with cuts and bruises to her head and a bite mark on her back, police said.

The girl was identified by police as Shalom Guifarro, who lives on Lincoln Place in the Crown Heights neighborhood.

Her mother, who is being questioned by police, is 48-year-old Shamaine Cato. A police official said Ms. Cato has a history of domestic complaints, although none appear to be related to Shalom.

Neighbors described Cato as an overprotective and troubled mother. They said she was known around the neighborhood for verbally abusing her daughter and two dogs, a pit bull and a smaller dog.

Rey Santiago, 28, a neighbour, said: ‘She’s gone mad.

The New York Police Department said Cato called 911 to report that her daughter was in an accident.

Bart Hubbuch, the owner of the Memphis Seoul restaurant, located on the ground floor of the low-rise brick building where Ms. Cato lives, said when he arrived early Sunday afternoon, his employees reported a stench, which they said. it was a broken toilet. up floor.

A few minutes after the building manager answered their call, they watched him emerge from the building, his face pale.

More paramedics arrived shortly after, just after 1 p.m., and Shalom was pronounced dead at the scene. Also at home at the time with Shalom and her mother was her other daughter Cato, 13.

“They said it was a horrible crime scene,” Hubbuch said, adding that he had witnessed officers wiping away tears.

Flora Wilson, 51, a neighborhood guard friendly to Miss Cato and her family, said: “It’s sad – it’s a beautiful little girl.

Two neighbors said that Ms. Cato was known by the nickname Serge. One neighbor, Barry Todman, 51, said she worked on Atlantic Avenue to help city dwellers apply for welfare benefits. She often wears sweatshirts with the Jamaican flag in green, yellow and black.

“I don’t know what the hell happened,” said Mr Todman, who added that when he went to Ms Cato for support in the summer of 2020, she was kind and professional.

But Mr Hubbuch and others say Mrs. Cato is famous around her block for yelling at her daughters. He added that he won’t see girls playing outside or with friends.

“She was always screaming at her kids so loud it would startle you,” he said, adding that he had never seen her physically abused. “It was like, Why are you yelling at your kids like that?”

Hubbuch said the woman’s boyfriend had worked during the pandemic as a delivery driver, but hadn’t been here for several months. He added that police officers spoke to the boyfriend when he arrived at the scene on Sunday afternoon and he passed away in a state of distress.

A man who runs a grocery store in the neighborhood says Ms. Cato often comes in for food assistance. He described her as rude and a strict disciplinarian with her children and animals. “But I never expected anything like this,” said the man, who gave only his name, Rob.

The three detectives could be seen going in and out of Miss Cato’s building on Sunday night. A police cruiser was still parked ahead.

Ashley Southall contribution report.

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