Thursday afternoon, Oct. 15, horrified neighbors in the Bronx’s Tremont section pleaded with 27-year-old Tenisha Fearon as the naked woman dangled the youngest of her four children out the window of apartment 6D at 2200 Tiebout Ave. while hysterically shouting. Some gathered in front of the building near 183rd Street, begging her not to drop the child.
“They were yelling at her, ‘Don’t do it. Think about it,’ and there were people who stopped, but she wasn’t … ‘I’m going to throw the baby out the window,’ and she was screaming, ‘Hallelujah, praise God, we’re all gonna die!’ And that’s when I figured, OK, this is time to call 911,” said building neighbor Lizette Rodriguez, 48, who witnessed the tragedy unfold. “She was arguing with herself.”
Witnesses recall seeing Fearon tossing various items out the window and hearing screaming earlier that day. Neighbor Gregorio Lopez said he was concerned she would throw the other children out as well. He said a conflict with her brother sparked things.
“Her brother is in the hallway, saying, ‘God helps us, God help us.’ So it started from there,” said Lopez. “Once he disappeared, she went in and took those actions.”
Responding to multiple 911 calls, police arrived at 1:49 p.m. and found the three other children—a 10-year-old boy, 4-year-old and 8-year-old girl—completely naked, lying on the floor. They were taken to St. Barnabas for precautionary evaluation. They had no external injuries.
However, 6-month-old Junillah Lawrence was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:28 p.m.
“We put her down and she was dead already,” recollected building superintendent George Maldanado. “You hold a dead baby in your hand … see how you feel.”
Authorities say the woman was apprehended and taken to Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center to be evaluated. As she was taken into custody, she claimed, “The devil is in her [Junillah].” She was remanded to jail and charged with second-degree murder, and is described as emotionally disturbed.
“She’s a nice woman, you would never see that,” Lopez said. “To take a baby and toss them out the window, you can’t be all right.”
The judge ordered a psychiatric exam for Fearon and protective custody in jail. ACS released a statement Thursday evening, saying, “We are currently investigating the circumstances that led to this tragic incident and are actively working to ensure the well-being of the three remaining children in this household.” The other siblings are now in ACS custody.
Authorities say the family was on the verge of being evicted.
Stephen Davis, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said Fearon’s boyfriend, the father of Junilah and the 4-year-old, was living with the family but wasn’t present Oct. 15.
Her sister, Alicia Fearon, 33, said, “Tenisha loved her children dearly, and she cared for her children 100 percent. This is a shocker for us.”
Carol Watson, who has known Fearon many years and lives in the same building, said, “The children were always clean and well looked after,” she added. “But you never know what is going on in someone’s head. People are under all kinds of stress these days.”
After her Oct. 21 hearing in Bronx Supreme Court, Feearon wailed, “Oh God, oh God, Jesus, man, help me, help me, oh God!”
Results of her psychiatric exam are pending.
Fearon’s godmother, Louella Hatch, said, “My belief is she was sick and just didn’t tell anybody. This is a disease and nobody detects it. If you’re sick, you don’t know what you’re doing. She’s like my child. It’s tearing me up, but I’m going to stick with her till the end because she needs help.”
Fearon ran a registered family day care from her apartment between 2013 and April 2015.
This death is the third death of a child thrown from a New York apartment window by a mother recently. In September, a newborn girl, with her umbilical cord still attached, was thrown from a seven-story Bronx building in University Heights, allegedly by Jennifer Berry, 33. In August, Rashida Chowdhury, 21, supposedly tossed her 3-week-old boy out a fourth-floor window in Queens.
Fearon’s case was adjourned until Nov. 23.