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Prosecutors: Pattern of abuse led up to Normal 8-year-old’s murder

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WEEK) — Prosecutors documented a pattern of abuse leading up to the murder of an 8-year-old girl in McLean County earlier this year.

Bond was set at $1 million Thursday for Cynthia Baker, 41, of Normal, in connection with the child’s murder. Police said Baker kicked the 8-year-old so hard that she later died of her injuries at a Peoria hospital on Jan. 25.

In a probable cause statement regarding 10 additional misdemeanor counts against Baker, prosecutors allege a history of abusive behavior from Baker towards the child going back to last fall.

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In October 2018, prosecutors said Baker was angry after school officials gave the child a coat when she came to school without one because her biological daughter did not also receive a free coat, despite already having one.

In December, prosecutors said DCFS was notified after the child came to school with two black eyes. Baker reportedly claimed the child was “just clumsy,” then pulled both the child and her own daughter out of the school, transferring them to another school.

DCFS ordered Baker to take the child to her doctor for treatment for her black eyes. She took her to a doctor in Pontiac, but then later refused to take the child for X-rays, saying her medical card was expired and she was too busy caring for her other kids.

A search warrant to inspect an iCloud on Baker’s phone turned up three video recordings.

On May 6, 2018, prosecutors said Baker slapped the 8-year-old girl as the child ran away to avoid going into Baker’s room to be punished.

On August 26, prosecutors said video depicts Baker dragging the child into the bedroom by her neck. The child was also reportedly made to strip naked and hold cans up for nearly half an hour while dripping wet and shivering.

At one point, Baker admonished the child for not keeping her arms straight, slapped both sides of the child’s face, yelled “Do I need to put a collar on you?” and wrapped her hands around the child’s neck, prosecutors said. When the child cries “no,” prosecutors said Baker forcefully put her arms back in the straight position and forced her to continue holding the cans.

On September 8, the child was reportedly shown kneeing the child in the back multiple times while she was again holding the cans. Later, prosecutors said the video shows Baker slamming the child’s head into a wall.

DCFS has not responded to our request for a timeline of their involvement in the child’s welfare or for additional comment.

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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