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Mother allegedly stabbed 5-year-old daughter to death in front of older daughter

The older girl, 8, pulled her mother’s hair in attempt to intervene in what Cook County Judge Mary Marubio described as a “brutal and vicious” attack. But she was too late and couldn’t save Serenity Arrington, prosecutors said.

A bicycle lies on the front yard of a house on the 3200 block of West Fulton Boulevard in East Garfield Park Saturday afternoon, Sept. 26, 2020. A five-year-old girl was stabbed on the 3200 block of West Fulton Boulevard Saturday morning.
A bicycle lies on the front yard of a house on the 3200 block of West Fulton Boulevard in East Garfield Park Saturday afternoon, Sept. 26, 2020. Serenity Arrington, 5, was allegedly stabbed to death there by her mother earlier that day.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

An East Garfield Park woman allegedly stabbed her 5-year-old daughter to death as her 8-year-old daughter witnessed the bloodshed, then tried to stop her.

The older girl pulled her mother’s hair, trying to intervene in what Cook County Judge Mary Marubio called a “brutal and vicious” attack.

But she was too late and couldn’t save Serenity Arrington, prosecutors said.

The 8-year-old girl later told her maternal grandfather “mommy stabbed her little sister,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

The sisters had been in the room of their mother — Simone Austin — Saturday morning, when Austin asked her older daughter to leave, Murphy said.

The older daughter left but stood outside the door, peeking through a hole left by a missing doorknob. The girl screamed and opened the door when she saw 27-year-old Austin pull out a serrated knife from under the pillow, Murphy said.

Austin allegedly began stabbing Serenity, who said she was sorry and begged her mother to stop.

The 8-year-old girl tried to pull Austin off Serenity by tugging at her hair, Murphy said.

Simone Austin
Simone Austin
Chicago police

The older daughter eventually fled the room, crying out for her grandfather, whose home all three had been living in for the last few weeks, Murphy said.

The grandfather saw Serenity bleeding, called 911 and asked his neighbors to do the same. The 8-year-old girl then ran out of the house, in the 3200 block of West Fulton Boulevard, and started screaming again that “mommy killed her little sister,” Murphy said.

Austin, as her neighbors watched, carried out her dead daughter’s “limp, bloody and naked” body and placed it on a grassy area next to the sidewalk, Murphy said.

When her father’s friend asked what had happened, glimpsing Serenity’s profusely bleeding body, Austin allegedly told the man she was sorry and shouldn’t have done this, Murphy said.

Chicago firefighters were already tending to Serenity when Chicago police arrived. Austin again said she did it and apologized — this time to emergency personnel, Murphy said.

Serenity was transported to Stroger Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Autopsy reports showed she died from “multiple incised wounds to the neck,” including one that almost went through the back of her neck, Murphy said.

The knife was recovered from Austin’s bedroom, Murphy said.

Austin’s 8-year-old daughter told detectives this wasn’t the first time her mother threatened her and Serenity with a knife, prosecutors said. Once, she brandished the knife because her daughters spilled eggs on the porch, Murphy said. The older sister said watching Austin walking around with a knife worried her since “you never know what could happen,” Murphy said.

Marubio called the allegations against Austin “devastating.”

“The 8-year-old had enough experience to understand that her mom walking around with a knife was a threat,” Marubio said, ordering Austin held without bail. “She had done so on previous occasions scaring the children.”

An assistant public defender, meanwhile, said there’s no indication Austin has ever harmed any of her children previously, saying “the DCFS [Illinois Department of Children and Family Services] records are not present here.”

Austin dropped out of high school after her freshman year because she was homeless, the defense attorney said.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said the case shows the need for more facilities providing short-term child care for parents in distress.

“The officers who responded to the scene will forever be haunted by what they saw and heard,” Brown said.

DCFS officials were unavailable for comment.

Austin is expected back in court Oct. 19.

Contributing: Michael Lee