WESTMINSTER, CA – A mother is in police custody after her disabled nine-year-old daughter was found dead in their Westminster residence on Friday. Khadiyjah Pendergraph, 32, was arrested and faces murder charges. Westminster police arrived at the Village Green Apartments, located on Goldenwest Street and Homer Street, following a welfare check.
The police were tipped off when they received a call from a family member expressing concern. At the scene, the law enforcement officers found the lifeless body of the nine-year-old girl, showing clear signs of trauma.
According to court documents acquired by NBCLA, the young victim suffered from cerebral palsy- a group of disorders affecting movement and muscle tone or posture, as stated by the CDC. Pendergraph was located and arrested at an Aliso Viejo shopping center, about half an hour away from the scene.
In a previous court filing for a restraining order against the child’s father, Pendergraph had cited domestic violence with the child involved. The child was two at the time. In the document, Pendergraph stated that the child is “unsafe” with the father, and she, as the sole caregiver, would “keep her safe at all times.” The neighborhood, still reeling in shock, recalled Pendergraph as a private person. Few local interactions were noted, though the girl was often seen in a wheelchair.
Orange County Child Protective Services has neither confirmed nor denied any prior involvement with Pendergraph and her daughter.
Investigators are continuing to probe into the circumstances of the child’s death. They are urging anyone with useful information to contact either Detective Marcela Lopez or the Orange County Crime Stoppers. Anonymity is guaranteed for callers.