Mother: Death of 8-Year-Old Girl Was Accident, Not Suicide

The mother found her daughter hanging from a cloth belt tied to a bar in the closet of her bedroom in their Roseland home earlier this week

The grieving mother of an 8-year-old girl who was found dead in her Chicago home this week spoke publicly for the first time Saturday saying her daughter did not commit suicide.

Carmella Evans, the mother of Cherish Foster, found her daughter unresponsive and hanging from a cloth belt tied to a bar in a closet in her bedroom on Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. Police were called to the residence in the 9200 block of South LaSalle in the Roseland neighborhood for a report of suicide, but Evans claims that's not what happened.

"I just want everyone to know that my baby wasn't trying to kill herself," Evans said Saturday. "It was just an accident, and I wasn't able to help her as fast as she needed help." 

After Evans found her body, Cherish was rushed to Comer Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The girl's grandfather, Todd Evans, told NBC Chicago that Cherish was "just like any other 8-year-old" and never had any thoughts of suicide. Cherish, her mother and her 7-year-old brother had just moved to Chicago from Florida, and the children were preparing to enroll in school, according to family members.

Officials have not determined what they believe was the cause of death, whether it was a homicide, suicide or a tragic accident. Results from an autopsy conducted Thursday were pending further investigation.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Family Services said the department is investigating Carmella Evans for allegations of abuse and neglect, but they added they did not have prior contact with the family. Two children have been placed with another family member under a DCFS-monitored safety plan while the investigation continues, according to the spokesperson.

The Chicago Police Department and DCFS are each conducting investigations into the death.

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