MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx — A week before 7-year-old Julissia Batties was found dying in her mother’s Bronx apartment with bruises all over her body, her mom allegedly told case workers with the Administration for Children’s Services that her daughter’s black eye was caused by a Nerf gun toy, according to a source.
“She refused to let the girl be interviewed by ACS,” a law enforcement source told PIX11 on Monday, as investigators and the Bronx district attorney’s office continued to piece together evidence to make an arrest in the case.
A medical examiner’s report revealed that Batties died from trauma to the abdomen, with old and new injuries indicated as well. She also had trauma to her face and arm.
Her mother, Navasia Jones, denied hurting the child, but the girl’s older half brother, who is 17, told police he’d punched Batties in the face the morning of her death, reportedly because he was annoyed the little girl kept going to the kitchen for snacks.
According to documents obtained by PIX11, Batties was returned to the full custody of her mother on June 21, 2021.
The girl had been raised for nearly six years by her paternal grandmother in Brooklyn before Family Court approved a trial discharge to Jones in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Within six weeks of Batties’ permanent discharge to her mother’s care in June 2021, a Bronx resident called a child abuse hotline about her black eye.
That’s why an ACS caseworker turned up at the mother’s fifth-floor apartment in the Mitchel Houses NYCHA complex about a week before the child died on Aug. 10.
The law enforcement source said Jones refused to let ACS caseworkers see the girl and claimed Batties’ little brother, a toddler, had hit her with the handle of a toy Nerf gun.
The Family Court order to release Batties permanently to her mother’s care on June 21 came with a warning in bold letters: “If severe or repeated abuse is proven by clear and convincing evidence, this finding may constitute the basis to terminate your parental rights.”
However, Batties remained with her mother after ACS visited the family apartment in early August to check on the black eye.
Yolanda Davis, Batties’ paternal grandmother, said she’s anguished that the child’s body remained in the medical examiner’s office nearly two weeks after her death.
Davis tried to have a funeral home remove the body so arrangements could be made for burial, but she said the medical examiner’s office notified the mortician that Batties’ mom had a claim over the child’s remains.
Davis also provided PIX11 a document from one of Batties’ therapy sessions in 2019.
“Ms. Batties has been observed to become upset and dysregulated when mom is mentioned in session. She displays anger towards Grandma when Grandma mentions a visit with mom,” the social worker wrote.
During the initial investigation after Batties’ death, the girl’s mother told investigators that she had gone to the store early in the morning on the day the girl allegedly was punched by her teen brother.
A 911 call was made around 9 a.m. Batties was discovered lying face-up on a bedroom floor, unconscious and unresponsive.
She was pronounced dead at Lincoln Hospital.
Batties’ teenage brother has since been removed from his mother’s care and is staying with other relatives.