Babysitter, boyfriend charged in toddler's murder
June 26, 2009 (CROWN POINT, Ind.) (WLS) -- The death of a 2-year-old northwest Indiana girl who had been missing for a week has been ruled a homicide. The child's 18-year-old babysitter and her boyfriend are charged with murder.
The body of Jada Justice was discovered Thursday in rural LaPorte County. The toddler's body was found exactly one week after Jada's babysitter told police she had been taken from her car at a gas station in Hobart.
The babysitter, Engelica Castillo, and her boyfriend, Tim Tkachik, are charged with the murder of Jada Justice.
The details offered thus far are disturbing to say the least. According to a statement Tkachik reportedly gave to authorities, he said Castillo killed little Jada and the two of them worked on a plan to dispose of her body, first lighting it on fire and then burying it in a barrel filled with concrete.
It was the news family members prayed never to hear. But Friday afternoon they could no longer hold out hope Jada was still alive.
"We showed them a photograph of the girl during the autopsy as best we could. It was a very difficult thing of course to do. That spares them what I would describe as the hell having to look at the body," said coroner John Sullivan.
Shortly afterward, the authorities filed charges against the two people they had in custody since Thursday, Castillo, Jada's cousin and babysitter, and her boyfriend, Tkachik. Both are charged with murder, neglect, battery and false informing.
During questioning, Castillo allegedly stuck to her original story that Jada disappeared from her car when she went to a Gary gas station. Her boyfriend, however, offered a different version of events and his information is what led authorities to her body Thursday in west LaPorte County.
Tkachik described how Castillo and he had several lines of heroin before going to bed the night before Jada's death. The next morning he said he found Engelica spanking Jada and pulling her hair. Later that evening he realized Jada was not breathing. Engelica began screaming and crying. He says they then placed Jada's body in garbage bags. They tried to light her body on fire but there was an explosion that burned him in the face and arms. They then put her body in a tub and filled it with concrete and later came up with the story about Jada being abducted.
Castillo's attorney says it's not true.
"A plea of not guilty will be entered at the first opportunity, and we believe that once all of the evidence is presented to a fair and impartial jury she will be cleared of responsibility for her cousin's death," said T. Edward Page, Angelica's attorney.
Both suspects are being held in Crown Point. The two are scheduled to make their initial court appearance Monday.
local, john garcia
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