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Police: Mother Killed Daughter She Thought Was Possessed

November 24, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ Some neighbors heard the screams and did nothing, and pleas for help from others fell on deaf ears.

In the end, it cost 6-year-old Alisa Izquierdo her life, one that was filled with severe abuse by a mother who believed that the little girl was possessed by the devil, authorities said.

The girl’s mother, 29-year-old Awilda Lopez, was charged Thursday with murder.

``I didn’t do it,″ Lopez, who has five other children, said as she was walked out of the police precinct.

Alisa’s body, found Wednesday in the family’s apartment, was covered with bruises and cigarette burns. Some of her fingers were broken and there were signs she had been sexually abused, authorities said.

The five other children, ages 2 to 9, also were found in the apartment. They were dirty but apparently not injured, police said. They were turned over to welfare authorities.

An autopsy showed Alisa died from a brain hemorrhage after being hit in the head.

The first-grader’s injuries were in various stages of healing, indicating that she had been abused frequently, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner.

``In my 22 years of service, this has been the worst case of child abuse I’ve ever seen,″ said police Lt. Luis Gonzalez.

Lopez was into Santeria, the Afro-Caribbean religion, Gonzalez told the Daily News in today’s editions.

``She’s showing no emotion because she believes she did the right thing,″ Gonzalez told the newspaper. ``She believes her daughter was possessed by the devil.″

Lopez had told her sister, Brunilda Rivera, and other relatives that Alisa knew voodoo, and that she was afraid of the little girl, The New York Times reported today. Lopez blamed the girl’s death on supernatural spirits, Rivera said.

Neighbors had said they frequently heard screaming coming from the 20th-floor apartment Lopez shared with the children.

Millie Vasquez said she would hear Alisa crying in the middle of the night: ``Mommy, please stop. No more.″

Other neighbors also said they heard screams or strange thuds coming from the apartment, and did nothing.

``I wish I had called Family Services or something,″ neighbor Wen Kuen Ng said.

Officials at the school where Alisa attended kindergarten from September 1994 to December 1994, said they notified social services that they thought the girl was being abused but that no action was taken.

Renelda Higgins, a spokeswoman for the city’s Child Welfare Administration, said state confidentiality laws prevented her from commenting.

Rivera said she had complained to city child welfare officials in 1989 about the way Lopez treated her children, the Times said.

That complaint led authorities to remove Alisa and two other children from the home for a year, Rivera said.

``She was a terrible mother,″ Rivera told the Times. ``She would leave the kids anywhere and go wherever she pleased.″

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