Parker would not say whether detectives had determined a motive for the attack, but she said the 12-year-old boy had “beaten the child repeatedly” in a single incident. No weapon was used, she said.
The foster parents, a man and a woman, were not at home at the time of the incident, Parker said. She said the parents have three biological children — girls ages 15 and 4, in addition to the 12-year-old boy — and that the older girl was in charge of the other youngsters when the beating occurred.
Without providing a specific timeline of events, Parker said the foster father “was summoned home” late Tuesday morning, after the beating, and found Aniyah unconscious. He called 911 at 12:09 p.m. As an ambulance headed to the house — a neatly kept brick-front split-level with red shutters and a small front lawn — the father tried to revive Aniyah with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Parker said.
The girl was pronounced dead at a hospital. After an autopsy Wednesday, Parker said, the Maryland medical examiner’s office concluded that the girl was a homicide victim and that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma. Shortly afterward, the boy was charged with second-degree murder.
Second-degree murder, or murder that is not premeditated, is a lesser crime than first-degree murder. Because the boy was charged as a juvenile, police declined to identify him, who they said is being held at the Cheltenham Youth Facility.
Cunningham, 25, of Landover said her other children are a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Last fall, she said, she had custody of Aniyah and her other daughter, but her son was being cared for by a relative. Cunningham said she was living in an Adelphi apartment at the time. One day in November, she said, the relative brought the 3-year-old boy to visit her, and a horrible accident occurred.
Cunningham said someone — not her — mistakenly put the boy in a tub filled with scalding water while trying to give him a bath. “He got all burned,” she recalled, sobbing loudly on the phone. “His skin was coming off real bad.”
As a result of that incident, Cunningham said, a Prince George’s County judge removed the two girls from her custody. She said that the 5-year-old girl went to live with a foster family in the District and that Aniyah was placed with the family in Fort Washington.
Foster children in Prince George’s are the responsibility of the county’s Department of Social Services and its parent agency, the Maryland Department of Human Resources. Police referred all questions about the Fort Washington family to Pat Hines, a spokesman for the state human resources agency. Citing privacy rules, Hines would not discuss Aniyah or the foster parents’ history of caring for children under state supervision.