Four-year-old Emily Rose Perrin was resting on her stomach, playing with her dolls, her golden curls hanging around her face. She was a happy child, her brother told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though she battled cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that wreaks havoc on the lungs.
She was no doubt excited — she was turning 5 the next day.
Moments later, witnesses later told police, her mother — naked and possibly high — climbed on top of Emily and pressed her hands against the girl’s nose and mouth, according to court records. The mother was holding a chain dog leash, saying “she was sending Emily to see Jesus,” the documents said.
When first responders arrived at the home in Dupo, a village in Illinois just a stone’s throw from the Missouri border, the girl was lying on the living-room floor.
Her lips were purple, police said, and she wasn’t breathing. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“My little sister was an angel, a little princess,” her older brother, William Perrin, told the Post-Dispatch this week. “She always smiled, even though in life she was handed lemons. She had a difficult life.”
The girl’s mother, 36-year-old Mary B. Lockett, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder for “intentionally impeding the normal breathing” of the child, according to the criminal complaint.
She is being held in the St. Clair County Jail on $1 million bail. Her public defender could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lockett’s roommate told police he had gone out to buy marijuana early on the afternoon of April 10, a Sunday, according to court records. When he left, he said, Lockett was smoking marijuana in her bedroom.
But when he returned, he found Lockett on top of her daughter, he said.
He pulled Lockett off the child and called 911, he told investigators.
“Lockett was going crazy inside the residence and saying she was going to kill herself,” according to the court documents.
When authorities arrived, they found the lifeless 4-year-old and her hysterical mother — still naked and holding onto her roommate for comfort. Lockett’s 8-year-old son was standing in the bedroom doorway.
Police said the boy told them that his mother had killed his sister — and that she needed to go to jail, according to the documents.
A Dupo police officer grabbed Emily and carried her to the front yard, where he tried to perform CPR.
Lockett, the officer said, told him: “Jesus came along with the dark angels.”
Paramedics took Lockett to a hospital, where she was sedated.
Court documents and local news reports portray Lockett as a struggling and unstable mother who was off and on prescription medication for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and had been on the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’s radar since June 2015.
A department spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch that, as far as she knew, Lockett had never showed aggression toward her children.
Around the time of the incident, police said, Lockett had sent a text to her mother saying her young son had stopped breathing earlier in the day and that she had to perform CPR to bring him back to life, according to court records.
Afterward, while Lockett was in the emergency room, she asked whether her son was dead, whether a sword had been used to cut out his heart and whether her roommate had cleaned his fingerprints off of the sword and put her fingerprints on it instead, police said.
During a recent court appearance, according to the Belleville News-Democrat, Lockett called out to family members, saying: “Please, believe me. I did not do this.”
At one point, the newspaper reported, Lockett pounced and shouted at a News-Democrat photographer, calling him “demon spawn.”
“I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ,” she told the photographer, according to the newspaper’s account.
Lockett is expected to undergo a mental health evaluation.
By all accounts, Emily was a “vivacious” 4-year-old who liked to pretend she was a princess. Photos on social media show the child sitting in a hospital bed, donning a blue princess dress and cradling a matching doll.
“She loved to be the princess,” Donald Carpenter, Lockett’s cousin, told the News-Democrat. “She was an awesome little girl.”
Carpenter set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Emily’s funeral costs.
“Please pray for peace as this is truly a heart breaking tragedy,” he wrote.
During Emily’s funeral procession last weekend, friends and neighbors gathered along South Main Street in Dupo, according to the News-Democrat. Men removed their caps. Children waved neon-colored signs that read, “Fly High Em” and “RIP Princess Emily.”
“We’ll focus on two things — the positive reality that Emily is alive and well, without cystic fibrosis, without pain or injury, and in the presence of Jesus and all the saints who have gone before her,” Steve Smith, a family friend who led the child’s service, told the newspaper.
Smith told the News-Democrat that Emily will be remembered for her unbreakable spirit.
“She was a fighter,” he said about her illness. “She didn’t let it keep her from being a very active, vivacious child.”