ST. LOUIS - Brenda Baker's 23-month-old granddaughter Jabria Phillips died from blunt force trauma to her torso Tuesday morning after being inside an apartment in the 1400 block of Rowan Avenue in north St. Louis.
Her stepfather, Deonte Evans, is charged with murder. Police say he admitted to hitting her several times for "stealing" a piece of cake. Her mother, Shanika Evans, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
"Over and over in my head I just got this visual of her crying, screaming for somebody to help her, for somebody to tell them to stop hitting her, and nobody could come to her rescue," Baker said.
She says she tried to come to her rescue twice: first in November at the request of Jabria's mother.
"She said 'When do you think you could come get Bri because I can't take care of her anymore. I don't have any help.'"
Baker says she took Jabria back to Detroit with her, along with a letter she says was the child's mom turning custody over to her. That's when noticed signs of abuse. Shanika Evans came to get her a two days before Christmas.
And just weeks before Jabria's death, Baker says she walked into the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department with several papers, including what appears to be a court order from Michigan granting her temporary custody.
"And I'm like 'my granddaughter's life is at stake. I'm afraid for my granddaughter's life.' He said so many people can make so many things up," she said.
Chief Sam Dotson says they never had a clue that Jabria was in danger. In fact, he says, the only previous call to the home where she was beaten to death was for a disturbance involving Brenda Baker and Shanika Evans over the care and custody of the little girl.
"When she made contact with the police officers, they gave her some direction on how to proceed," Chief Dotson said. "At no time when she made contact with the officers did she talk about violence in the household, did she say that the child was in danger or being harmed."
"For police to even say that I never mentioned that, what did I go to the police station for then?" said Baker.
Chief Dotson says the department is looking into Brenda Baker's claims. They're scheduled to meet with her in the near future.