No bail for woman charged with killing sons, stabbing grandfather in South Shore high-rise

Johntavis Newell, 2, and Ameer Newell, just 7 months old, were killed Thursday in the 7200 block of South Shore Drive.

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Chicago Police investigate Thursday at a South Shore neighborhood high-rise apartment building in the 7200 block of South South Shore Drive, where two children died overnight after a woman allegedly stabbed her grandfather, dropped one child out a window then jumped from an 11th-floor unit.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A woman charged with killing her two young sons and stabbing her grandfather before jumping out the window of a South Shore high-rise had asked her mother on New Year’s Eve to pick up her boys so she could “get her life together,” prosecutors said.

But, prosecutors said, when her mother went to their home Wednesday, Aleah Newell and her two boys weren’t home.

Newell faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in the horrific case that ended with 2-year-old Johntavis Newell dead in a fall and 7-month-old Ameer Newell fatally stabbed and scalded in a bathtub.

Judge Susana Ortiz called the 20-year-old woman’s alleged actions “reflective of wanton cruelty,” ordering Newell jailed without bail during a hearing Saturday after Cook County prosecutors detailed the chilling scene that played out early Thursday at the building in the 7200 block of South Shore Drive.

Newell did not attend the hearing as she recovers at the University of Chicago Medical Center from a broken wrist and ankle she suffered in the fall, authorities said.

Cook County prosecutors said she started a hot bath at her 70-year-old grandfather’s apartment while little Johntavis and Ameer were in the living room. As the water was running, her grandfather went into the bathroom to urinate.

That’s when Newell allegedly walked up behind him, put him in a chokehold and hit him in the head with a towel bar. She then grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him more than 10 times, leaving “blood spatter all over the toilet, sink and vanity,” prosecutors said.

Newell left the elderly man unconscious, went to Ameer and stabbed him 19 times in the head, prosecutors said. She then took the infant to the bathroom and “plunged him face-down into the scalding hot water in the bathtub,” prosecutors said.

Newell then cut a hole in a window screen in the living room, hurled Johntavis out of it and jumped herself, prosecutors said.

The screen is broken in an 11th-floor unit at a South Shore high-rise in the 7200 block of South Shore Drive.

The screen is broken in an 11th-floor unit at a South Shore high-rise, shown Thursday in the 7200 block of South Shore Drive.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Surveillance video showed her fall was broken by a window washer scaffold on the third floor before she landed on the concrete next to her motionless toddler, prosecutors said.

A building security worker heard the crash about 2 a.m. and called 911. Tenants below the unit also reported water coming from their ceiling from the overflowing bathtub.

Police officers found the 70-year-old man in the bathroom doorway, “moaning in a pool of blood,” prosecutors said. Ameer was still face-down in the tub.

Officers attempted CPR, but Ameer “never moved and was not making a sound,” prosecutors said.

The children were pronounced dead at Comer Children’s Hospital. Newell and her grandfather were taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition. The man was expected to survive.

Prosecutors said Aleah Newell had told her mother on Tuesday that she “wanted to get her life together,” and asked her to pick up the boys. But when her mother went to pick the boys up on Wednesday, they weren’t home.

Aleah Newell had taken the older son, Johntavis, to Comer Children’s Hospital Monday because he had asthma, prosecutors said. When he was discharged, she took both children to a homeless shelter where they stayed through Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Aleah Newell previously attempted suicide over the summer, and that she took medication for an unspecified mood disorder.

Aleah Newell’s mother, Zera Newell, told the Sun-Times Friday that her daughter had asked shelter staff to take the children away from her.

“My daughter, I don’t know what was going on, but I know deep inside she loved her kids,” Zera Newell said. “And my grandsons, I’m not gonna never forget them. I wanna always remember the good times I had with them for two years and seven months.”

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